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PHYSICS

PART – I
TEXTBOOK FOR CLASS XII

2019-20
2019-20
PHYSICS
PART – I

TEXTBOOK FOR CLASS XII

2019-20
ISBN 81-7450-631-4
First Edition
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2019-20
FOREWORD

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 recommends that children’s life at school must
be linked to their life outside the school. This principle marks a departure from the legacy of bookish
learning which continues to shape our system and causes a gap between the school, home and
community. The syllabi and textbooks developed on the basis of NCF signify an attempt to implement
this basic idea. They also attempt to discourage rote learning and the maintenance of sharp
boundaries between different subject areas. We hope these measures will take us significantly
further in the direction of a child-centred system of education outlined in the National Policy on
Education (NPE), 1986.
The success of this effort depends on the steps that school principals and teachers will take to
encourage children to reflect on their own learning and to pursue imaginative activities and questions.
We must recognise that, given space, time and freedom, children generate new knowledge by engaging
with the information passed on to them by adults. Treating the prescribed textbook as the sole basis
of examination is one of the key reasons why other resources and sites of learning are ignored.
Inculcating creativity and initiative is possible if we perceive and treat children as participants in
learning, not as receivers of a fixed body of knowledge.
These aims imply considerable change in school routines and mode of functioning. Flexibility in
the daily time-table is as necessary as rigour in implementing the annual calendar so that the
required number of teaching days are actually devoted to teaching. The methods used for teaching
and evaluation will also determine how effective this textbook proves for making children’s life at
school a happy experience, rather than a source of stress or boredom. Syllabus designers have tried
to address the problem of curricular burden by restructuring and reorienting knowledge at different
stages with greater consideration for child psychology and the time available for teaching. The textbook
attempts to enhance this endeavour by giving higher priority and space to opportunities for
contemplation and wondering, discussion in small groups, and activities requiring hands-on
experience.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) appreciates the hard
work done by the textbook development committee responsible for this book. We wish to thank the
Chairperson of the advisory group in science and mathematics, Professor J.V. Narlikar and the
Chief Advisor for this book, Professor A.W. Joshi for guiding the work of this committee. Several
teachers contributed to the development of this textbook; we are grateful to their principals for
making this possible. We are indebted to the institutions and organisations which have generously
permitted us to draw upon their resources, material and personnel. We are especially grateful to
the members of the National Monitoring Committee, appointed by the Department of Secondary
and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development under the Chairpersonship of
Professor Mrinal Miri and Professor G.P. Deshpande, for their valuable time and contribution. As
an organisation committed to systemic reform and continuous improvement in the quality of its
products, NCERT welcomes comments and suggestions which will enable us to undertake further
revision and refinement.

Director
New Delhi National Council of Educational
20 December 2006 Research and Training

2019-20
2019-20
TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

CHAIRPERSON, ADVISORY GROUP FOR TEXTBOOKS IN SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS


J.V. Narlikar, Emeritus Professor, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics
(IUCAA), Ganeshkhind, Pune University Campus, Pune

CHIEF ADVISOR
A.W. Joshi, Honorary Visiting Scientist, National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), Pune
University Campus, Pune (Formerly Professor at Department of Physics, University of Pune)

MEMBERS
A.K. Ghatak, Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology,
New Delhi
Alika Khare, Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
Anjali Kshirsagar, Reader, Department of Physics, University of Pune, Pune
Anuradha Mathur, PGT , Modern School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
Atul Mody, Lecturer (S.G.), VES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai
B.K. Sharma, Professor, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi
Chitra Goel, PGT, Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Tyagraj Nagar, New Delhi
Gagan Gupta, Reader, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi
H.C. Pradhan, Professor, Homi Bhabha Centre of Science Education (TIFR), Mumbai
N. Panchapakesan, Professor (Retd.), Department of Physics and Astrophysics, University of
Delhi, Delhi
R. Joshi, Lecturer (S.G.), DESM, NCERT, New Delhi
S.K. Dash, Reader, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi
S. Rai Choudhary, Professor, Department of Physics and Astrophysics, University of Delhi, Delhi
S.K. Upadhyay, PGT, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Muzaffar Nagar
S.N. Prabhakara, PGT, DM School, Regional Institute of Education (NCERT), Mysore
V.H. Raybagkar, Reader, Nowrosjee Wadia College, Pune
Vishwajeet Kulkarni, Teacher (Grade I ), Higher Secondary Section, Smt. Parvatibai Chowgule
College, Margao, Goa

MEMBER-COORDINATOR
V.P. Srivastava, Reader, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi

2019-20
Constitution of India
Part IV A (Article 51 A)

Fundamental Duties
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India —
(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the
National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle
for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to
do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all
the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or
sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of
women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes,
rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and
reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective
activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour
and achievement;
*(k) who is a parent or guardian, to provide opportunities for education to
his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and
fourteen years.

Note: The Article 51A containing Fundamental Duties was inserted by the Constitution
(42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 (with effect from 3 January 1977).
*(k) was inserted by the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 (with effect from
1 April 2010).

2019-20
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The National Council of Educational Research and Training acknowledges the valuable
contribution of the individuals and organisations involved in the development of Physics Textbook
for Class XII. The Council also acknowledges the valuable contribution of the following academics
for reviewing and refining the manuscripts of this book:
Anu Venugopalan, Lecturer, School of Basic and Applied Sciences, GGSIP University, Delhi;
A.K. Das, PGT, St. Xavier’s Senior Secondary School, Delhi; Bharati Kukkal, PGT, Kendriya
Vidyalaya, Pushp Vihar, New Delhi; D.A. Desai, Lecturer (Retd.), Ruparel College, Mumbai;
Devendra Kumar, PGT, Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Yamuna Vihar, Delhi; I.K. Gogia, PGT,
Kendriya Vidyalaya, Gole Market, New Delhi; K.C. Sharma, Reader, Regional Institute of Education
(NCERT), Ajmer; M.K. Nandy, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of
Technology, Guwahati; M.N. Bapat, Reader, Regional Institute of Education (NCERT), Mysuru;
R. Bhattacharjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Electronics and Communication
Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati; R.S. Das, Vice-Principal (Retd.), Balwant
Ray Mehta Senior Secondary School, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi; Sangeeta D. Gadre, Reader, Kirori
Mal College, Delhi; Suresh Kumar, PGT, Delhi Public School, Dwarka, New Delhi; Sushma Jaireth,
Reader, Department of Women’s Studies, NCERT, New Delhi; Shyama Rath, Reader, Department
of Physics and Astrophysics, University of Delhi, Delhi; Yashu Kumar, PGT, Kulachi Hans Raj
Model School, Ashok Vihar, Delhi.
The Council also gratefully acknowledges the valuable contribution of the following academics
for the editing and finalisation of this book: B.B. Tripathi, Professor (Retd.), Department of Physics,
Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi; Dipan K. Ghosh, Professor, Department of Physics,
Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai; Dipanjan Mitra, Scientist, National Centre for Radio
Astrophysics (TIFR), Pune; G.K. Mehta, Raja Ramanna Fellow, Inter-University Accelerator
Centre, New Delhi; G.S. Visweswaran, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian
Institute of Technology, New Delhi; H.C. Kandpal, Head, Optical Radiation Standards, National
Physical Laboratory, New Delhi; H.S. Mani, Raja Ramanna Fellow, Institute of Mathematical
Sciences, Chennai; K. Thyagarajan, Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of
Technology, New Delhi; P.C. Vinod Kumar, Professor, Department of Physics, Sardar Patel
University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat; S. Annapoorni, Professor, Department of Physics and
Astrophysics, University of Delhi, Delhi; S.C. Dutta Roy, Emeritus Professor, Department of
Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi; S.D. Joglekar, Professor,
Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; and V. Sundara Raja, Professor,
Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.
The Council also acknowledges the valuable contributions of the following academics for
refining the text in 2017: A.K. Srivastava, Assistant Professor, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi; Arnab
Sen, Assistant Professor, NERIE, Shillong; L.S. Chauhan, Assistant Professor, RIE, Bhopal;
O.N. Awasthi, Professor (Retd.), RIE, Bhopal; Rachna Garg, Professor, DESM, NCERT, New
Delhi; Raman Namboodiri, Assistant Professor, RIE, Mysuru; R.R. Koireng, Assistant Professor,
DCS, NCERT, New Delhi; Shashi Prabha, Professor, DESM, NCERT, New Delhi; and S.V. Sharma,
Professor, RIE, Ajmer.
Special thanks are due to Hukum Singh, Professor and Head, DESM, NCERT for his support.
The Council also acknowledges the support provided by the APC office and the administrative
staff of the DESM; Deepak Kapoor, Incharge, Computer Station; Inder Kumar, DTP Operator;
Mohd. Qamar Tabrez, Copy Editor; Ashima Srivastava, Proof Reader in shaping this book.
The contributions of the Publication Department in bringing out this book are also duly
acknowledged.

2019-20
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Part III (Articles 12 – 35)
(Subject to certain conditions, some exceptions
and reasonable restrictions)
guarantees these
Fundamental Rights
Right to Equality
• before law and equal protection of laws;
• irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth;
• of opportunity in public employment;
• by abolition of untouchability and titles.
Right to Freedom
• of expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession;
• of certain protections in respect of conviction for offences;
• of protection of life and personal liberty;
• of free and compulsory education for children between the age of six and fourteen years;
• of protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
Right against Exploitation
• for prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour;
• for prohibition of employment of children in hazardous jobs.
Right to Freedom of Religion
• freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion;
• freedom to manage religious affairs;
• freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion;
• freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational
institutions wholly maintained by the State.
Cultural and Educational Rights
• for protection of interests of minorities to conserve their language, script and culture;
• for minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Right to Constitutional Remedies
• by issuance of directions or orders or writs by the Supreme Court and High
Courts for enforcement of these Fundamental Rights.

2019-20
PREFACE

It gives me pleasure to place this book in the hands of the students, teachers and the public at
large (whose role cannot be overlooked). It is a natural sequel to the Class XI textbook which
was brought out in 2006. This book is also a trimmed version of the textbooks which existed so
far. The chapter on thermal and chemical effects of current has been cut out. This topic has also
been dropped from the CBSE syllabus. Similarly, the chapter on communications has been
substantially curtailed. It has been rewritten in an easily comprehensible form.
Although most other chapters have been based on the earlier versions, several parts and
sections in them have been rewritten. The Development Team has been guided by the feedback
received from innumerable teachers across the country.
In producing these books, Class XI as well as Class XII, there has been a basic change of
emphasis. Both the books present physics to students without assuming that they would pursue
this subject beyond the higher secondary level. This new view has been prompted by the various
observations and suggestions made in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005.
Similarly, in today’s educational scenario where students can opt for various combinations of
subjects, we cannot assume that a physics student is also studying mathematics. Therefore,
physics has to be presented, so to say, in a standalone form.
As in Class XI textbook, some interesting box items have been inserted in many chapters.
They are not meant for teaching or examinations. Their purpose is to catch the attention of the
reader, to show some applications in daily life or in other areas of science and technology, to
suggest a simple experiment, to show connection of concepts in different areas of physics, and
in general, to break the monotony and enliven the book.
Features like Summary, Points to Ponder, Exercises and Additional Exercises at the end of
each chapter, and Examples have been retained. Several concept-based Exercises have been
transferred from end-of-chapter Exercises to Examples with Solutions in the text. It is hoped
that this will make the concepts discussed in the chapter more comprehensible. Several new
examples and exercises have been added. Students wishing to pursue physics further would
find Points to Ponder and Additional Exercises very useful and thoughtful. To provide resources
beyond the textbook and to encourage eLearning, each chapter has been provided with
some relevant website addresses under the title ePhysics. These sites provide additional
material on specific topics and also provide learners with opportunites for interactive
demonstrations/experiments.
The intricate concepts of physics must be understood, comprehended and appreciated.
Students must learn to ask questions like ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘how do we know it’. They will find
almost always that the question ‘why’ has no answer within the domain of physics and science
in general. But that itself is a learning experience, is it not? On the other hand, the question
‘how’ has been reasonably well answered by physicists in the case of most natural phenomena.
In fact, with the understanding of how things happen, it has been possible to make use of many
phenomena to create technological applications for the use of humans.
For example, consider statements in a book, like ‘A negatively charged electron is attracted
by the positively charged plate’, or ‘In this experiment, light (or electron) behaves like a wave’.
You will realise that it is not possible to answer ‘why’. This question belongs to the domain of
philosophy or metaphysics. But we can answer ‘how’, we can find the force acting, we can find

2019-20
the wavelength of the photon (or electron), we can determine how things behave under different
conditions, and we can develop instruments which will use these phenomena to our advantage.
It has been a pleasure to work for these books at the higher secondary level, along with a
team of members. The Textbook Development Team, Review Team and Editing Teams involved
college and university teachers, teachers from Indian Institutes of Technology, scientists from
national institutes and laboratories, as well as, higher secondary teachers. The feedback and
critical look provided by higher secondary teachers in the various teams are highly laudable.
Most box items were generated by members of one or the other team, but three of them were
generated by friends and well-wishers not part of any team. We are thankful to Dr P.N. Sen of
Pune, Professor Roopmanjari Ghosh of Delhi and Dr Rajesh B Khaparde of Mumbai for allowing
us to use their box items, respectively, in Chapters 3, 4 (Part I) and 9 (Part II). We are thankful
to the members of the review and editing workshops to discuss and refine the first draft of the
textbook. We also express our gratitude to Prof. Krishna Kumar, Director, NCERT, for entrusting
us with the task of presenting this textbook as a part of the national effort for improving science
education. I also thank Prof. G. Ravindra, Joint Director, NCERT, for his help from time-to-
time. Prof. Hukum Singh, Head, Department of Education in Science and Mathematics, NCERT,
was always willing to help us in our endeavour in every possible way.
We welcome suggestions and comments from our valued users, especially students and
teachers. We wish our young readers a happy journey into the exciting realm of physics.

A. W. JOSHI
Chief Advisor
Textbook Development Committee

xii

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CONTENTS

FOREWORD v
PREFACE xi

CHAPTER ONE
ELECTRIC CHARGES AND FIELDS
1.1 Introduction 1
1.2 Electric Charge 1
1.3 Conductors and Insulators 5
1.4 Charging by Induction 6
1.5 Basic Properties of Electric Charge 8
1.6 Coulomb’s Law 10
1.7 Forces between Multiple Charges 15
1.8 Electric Field 18
1.9 Electric Field Lines 23
1.10 Electric Flux 25
1.11 Electric Dipole 27
1.12 Dipole in a Uniform External Field 31
1.13 Continuous Charge Distribution 32
1.14 Gauss’s Law 33
1.15 Applications of Gauss’s Law 37

CHAPTER TWO
ELECTROSTATIC POTENTIAL AND CAPACITANCE
2.1 Introduction 51
2.2 Electrostatic Potential 53
2.3 Potential due to a Point Charge 54
2.4 Potential due to an Electric Dipole 55
2.5 Potential due to a System of Charges 57
2.6 Equipotential Surfaces 60
2.7 Potential Energy of a System of Charges 61
2.8 Potential Energy in an External Field 64
2.9 Electrostatics of Conductors 67
2.10 Dielectrics and Polarisation 71
2.11 Capacitors and Capacitance 73
2.12 The Parallel Plate Capacitor 74
2.13 Effect of Dielectric on Capacitance 75

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2.14 Combination of Capacitors 78
2.15 Energy Stored in a Capacitor 80

CHAPTER THREE
CURRENT ELECTRICITY
3.1 Introduction 93
3.2 Electric Current 93
3.3 Electric Currents in Conductors 94
3.4 Ohm’s law 95
3.5 Drift of Electrons and the Origin of Resistivity 97
3.6 Limitations of Ohm’s Law 101
3.7 Resistivity of Various Materials 101
3.8 Temperature Dependence of Resistivity 103
3.9 Electrical Energy, Power 105
3.10 Combination of Resistors — Series and Parallel 107
3.11 Cells, emf, Internal Resistance 110
3.12 Cells in Series and in Parallel 113
3.13 Kirchhoff’s Rules 115
3.14 Wheatstone Bridge 118
3.15 Meter Bridge 120
3.16 Potentiometer 122

CHAPTER FOUR
MOVING CHARGES AND MAGNETISM
4.1 Introduction 132
4.2 Magnetic Force 133
4.3 Motion in a Magnetic Field 137
4.4 Motion in Combined Electric and Magnetic Fields 140
4.5 Magnetic Field due to a Current Element, Biot-Savart Law 143
4.6 Magnetic Field on the Axis of a Circular Current Loop 145
4.7 Ampere’s Circuital Law 147
4.8 The Solenoid and the Toroid 150
4.9 Force between Two Parallel Currents, the Ampere 154
4.10 Torque on Current Loop, Magnetic Dipole 157
4.11 The Moving Coil Galvanometer 163

CHAPTER FIVE
MAGNETISM AND MATTER
5.1 Introduction 173
5.2 The Bar Magnet 174
5.3 Magnetism and Gauss’s Law 181
xiv

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5.4 The Earth’s Magnetism 185
5.5 Magnetisation and Magnetic Intensity 189
5.6 Magnetic Properties of Materials 191
5.7 Permanent Magnets and Electromagnets 195

CHAPTER SIX
ELECTROMAGNETIC INDUCTION
6.1 Introduction 204
6.2 The Experiments of Faraday and Henry 205
6.3 Magnetic Flux 206
6.4 Faraday’s Law of Induction 207
6.5 Lenz’s Law and Conservation of Energy 210
6.6 Motional Electromotive Force 212
6.7 Energy Consideration: A Quantitative Study 215
6.8 Eddy Currents 218
6.9 Inductance 219
6.10 AC Generator 224

CHAPTER SEVEN
ALTERNATING CURRENT
7.1 Introduction 233
7.2 AC Voltage Applied to a Resistor 234
7.3 Representation of AC Current and Voltage by
Rotating Vectors — Phasors 237
7.4 AC Voltage Applied to an Inductor 237
7.5 AC Voltage Applied to a Capacitor 241
7.6 AC Voltage Applied to a Series LCR Circuit 244
7.7 Power in AC Circuit: The Power Factor 252
7.8 LC Oscillations 255
7.9 Transformers 259

CHAPTER EIGHT
ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES
8.1 Introduction 269
8.2 Displacement Current 270
8.3 Electromagnetic Waves 274
8.4 Electromagnetic Spectrum 280

ANSWERS 288

xv

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COVER DESIGN
(Adapted from http://nobelprize.org and
the Nobel Prize in Physics 2006)

Different stages in the evolution of


the universe.

BACK COVER
(Adapted from http://www.iter.org and
http://www.dae.gov.in)

Cut away view of International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)


device. The man in the bottom shows the scale.
ITER is a joint international research and development project that
aims to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power.
India is one of the seven full partners in the project, the others being
the European Union (represented by EURATOM), Japan, the People’s
Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the
USA. ITER will be constructed in Europe, at Cadarache in the South of
France and will provide 500 MW of fusion power.
Fusion is the energy source of the sun and the stars. On earth, fusion
research is aimed at demonstrating that this energy source can be used to
produce electricity in a safe and environmentally benign way, with
abundant fuel resources, to meet the needs of a growing world population.
For details of India’s role, see Nuclear India, Vol. 39, Nov. 11-12/
May-June 2006, issue available at Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
website mentioned above.

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Chapter One

ELECTRIC CHARGES
AND FIELDS

1.1 INTRODUCTION
All of us have the experience of seeing a spark or hearing a crackle when
we take off our synthetic clothes or sweater, particularly in dry weather.
This is almost inevitable with ladies garments like a polyester saree. Have
you ever tried to find any explanation for this phenomenon? Another
common example of electric discharge is the lightning that we see in the
sky during thunderstorms. We also experience a sensation of an electric
shock either while opening the door of a car or holding the iron bar of a
bus after sliding from our seat. The reason for these experiences is
discharge of electric charges through our body, which were accumulated
due to rubbing of insulating surfaces. You might have also heard that
this is due to generation of static electricity. This is precisely the topic we
are going to discuss in this and the next chapter. Static means anything
that does not move or change with time. Electrostatics deals with the
study of forces, fields and potentials arising from static charges.

1.2 ELECTRIC CHARGE


Historically the credit of discovery of the fact that amber rubbed with
wool or silk cloth attracts light objects goes to Thales of Miletus, Greece,
around 600 BC. The name electricity is coined from the Greek word
elektron meaning amber. Many such pairs of materials were known which

2019-20
Physics
on rubbing could attract light objects
like straw, pith balls and bits of papers.
You can perform the following activity
at home to experience such an effect.
Cut out long thin strips of white paper
and lightly iron them. Take them near a
TV screen or computer monitor. You will
see that the strips get attracted to the
screen. In fact they remain stuck to the
screen for a while.
It was observed that if two glass rods
rubbed with wool or silk cloth are
brought close to each other, they repel
each other [Fig. 1.1(a)]. The two strands
FIGURE 1.1 Rods and pith balls: like charges repel and of wool or two pieces of silk cloth, with
unlike charges attract each other.
which the rods were rubbed, also repel
each other. However, the glass rod and
wool attracted each other. Similarly, two plastic rods rubbed with cat’s
http://demoweb.physics.ucla.edu/content/100-simple-electrostatic-

fur repelled each other [Fig. 1.1(b)] but attracted the fur. On the other
hand, the plastic rod attracts the glass rod [Fig. 1.1(c)] and repel the silk
or wool with which the glass rod is rubbed. The glass rod repels the fur.
If a plastic rod rubbed with fur is made to touch two small pith balls
(now-a-days we can use polystyrene balls) suspended by silk or nylon
Interactive animation on simple electrostatic experiments:

thread, then the balls repel each other [Fig. 1.1(d)] and are also repelled
by the rod. A similar effect is found if the pith balls are touched with a
glass rod rubbed with silk [Fig. 1.1(e)]. A dramatic observation is that a
pith ball touched with glass rod attracts another pith ball touched with
plastic rod [Fig. 1.1(f )].
These seemingly simple facts were established from years of efforts
and careful experiments and their analyses. It was concluded, after many
careful studies by different scientists, that there were only two kinds of
an entity which is called the electric charge. We say that the bodies like
glass or plastic rods, silk, fur and pith balls are electrified. They acquire
an electric charge on rubbing. The experiments on pith balls suggested
that there are two kinds of electrification and we find that (i) like charges
repel and (ii) unlike charges attract each other. The experiments also
demonstrated that the charges are transferred from the rods to the pith
balls on contact. It is said that the pith balls are electrified or are charged
experiments

by contact. The property which differentiates the two kinds of charges is


called the polarity of charge.
When a glass rod is rubbed with silk, the rod acquires one kind of
charge and the silk acquires the second kind of charge. This is true for
any pair of objects that are rubbed to be electrified. Now if the electrified
glass rod is brought in contact with silk, with which it was rubbed, they
no longer attract each other. They also do not attract or repel other light
objects as they did on being electrified.
Thus, the charges acquired after rubbing are lost when the charged
bodies are brought in contact. What can you conclude from these
2 observations? It just tells us that unlike charges acquired by the objects

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Electric Charges
and Fields
neutralise or nullify each other’s effect. Therefore, the charges were named
as positive and negative by the American scientist Benjamin Franklin.
We know that when we add a positive number to a negative number of
the same magnitude, the sum is zero. This might have been the
philosophy in naming the charges as positive and negative. By convention,
the charge on glass rod or cat’s fur is called positive and that on plastic
rod or silk is termed negative. If an object possesses an electric charge, it
is said to be electrified or charged. When it has no charge it is said to be
electrically neutral.

UNIFICATION OF ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM

In olden days, electricity and magnetism were treated as separate subjects. Electricity
dealt with charges on glass rods, cat’s fur, batteries, lightning, etc., while magnetism
described interactions of magnets, iron filings, compass needles, etc. In 1820 Danish
scientist Oersted found that a compass needle is deflected by passing an electric current
through a wire placed near the needle. Ampere and Faraday supported this observation
by saying that electric charges in motion produce magnetic fields and moving magnets
generate electricity. The unification was achieved when the Scottish physicist Maxwell
and the Dutch physicist Lorentz put forward a theory where they showed the
interdependence of these two subjects. This field is called electromagnetism. Most of the
phenomena occurring around us can be described under electromagnetism. Virtually
every force that we can think of like friction, chemical force between atoms holding the
matter together, and even the forces describing processes occurring in cells of living
organisms, have its origin in electromagnetic force. Electromagnetic force is one of the
fundamental forces of nature.
Maxwell put forth four equations that play the same role in classical electromagnetism
as Newton’s equations of motion and gravitation law play in mechanics. He also argued
that light is electromagnetic in nature and its speed can be found by making purely
electric and magnetic measurements. He claimed that the science of optics is intimately
related to that of electricity and magnetism.
The science of electricity and magnetism is the foundation for the modern technological
civilisation. Electric power, telecommunication, radio and television, and a wide variety
of the practical appliances used in daily life are based on the principles of this science.
Although charged particles in motion exert both electric and magnetic forces, in the
frame of reference where all the charges are at rest, the forces are purely electrical. You
know that gravitational force is a long-range force. Its effect is felt even when the distance
between the interacting particles is very large because the force decreases inversely as
the square of the distance between the interacting bodies. We will learn in this chapter
that electric force is also as pervasive and is in fact stronger than the gravitational force
by several orders of magnitude (refer to Chapter 1 of Class XI Physics Textbook).

A simple apparatus to detect charge on a body is the gold-leaf


electroscope [Fig. 1.2(a)]. It consists of a vertical metal rod housed in a
box, with two thin gold leaves attached to its bottom end. When a charged
object touches the metal knob at the top of the rod, charge flows on to
the leaves and they diverge. The degree of divergance is an indicator of
the amount of charge. 3

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Physics
Students can make a simple electroscope as
follows [Fig. 1.2(b)]: Take a thin aluminium curtain
rod with ball ends fitted for hanging the curtain. Cut
out a piece of length about 20 cm with the ball at
one end and flatten the cut end. Take a large bottle
that can hold this rod and a cork which will fit in the
opening of the bottle. Make a hole in the cork
sufficient to hold the curtain rod snugly. Slide the
rod through the hole in the cork with the cut end on
the lower side and ball end projecting above the cork.
Fold a small, thin aluminium foil (about 6 cm in
length) in the middle and attach it to the flattened
end of the rod by cellulose tape. This forms the leaves
of your electroscope. Fit the cork in the bottle with
about 5 cm of the ball end projecting above the cork.
A paper scale may be put inside the bottle in advance
to measure the separation of leaves. The separation
is a rough measure of the amount of charge on the
electroscope.
To understand how the electroscope works, use
the white paper strips we used for seeing the
attraction of charged bodies. Fold the strips into half
so that you make a mark of fold. Open the strip and
FIGURE 1.2 Electroscopes: (a) The gold leaf
electroscope, (b) Schematics of a simple iron it lightly with the mountain fold up, as shown
electroscope. in Fig. 1.3. Hold the strip by pinching it at the fold.
You would notice that the two halves move apart.
This shows that the strip has acquired charge on ironing. When you fold
it into half, both the halves have the same charge. Hence they repel each
other. The same effect is seen in the leaf electroscope. On charging the
curtain rod by touching the ball end with an electrified body, charge is
transferred to the curtain rod and the attached aluminium foil. Both the
halves of the foil get similar charge and therefore repel each other. The
divergence in the leaves depends on the amount of charge on them. Let
us first try to understand why material bodies acquire charge.
You know that all matter is made up of atoms and/or molecules.
Although normally the materials are electrically neutral, they do contain
charges; but their charges are exactly balanced. Forces that hold the
molecules together, forces that hold atoms together in a solid, the adhesive
force of glue, forces associated with surface tension, all are basically
electrical in nature, arising from the forces between charged particles.
Thus the electric force is all pervasive and it encompasses almost each
and every field associated with our life. It is therefore essential that we
learn more about such a force.
To electrify a neutral body, we need to add or remove one kind of
FIGURE 1.3 Paper strip charge. When we say that a body is charged, we always refer to this
experiment. excess charge or deficit of charge. In solids, some of the electrons, being
less tightly bound in the atom, are the charges which are transferred
from one body to the other. A body can thus be charged positively by
4 losing some of its electrons. Similarly, a body can be charged negatively

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Electric Charges
and Fields
by gaining electrons. When we rub a glass rod with silk, some of the
electrons from the rod are transferred to the silk cloth. Thus the rod gets
positively charged and the silk gets negatively charged. No new charge is
created in the process of rubbing. Also the number of electrons, that are
transferred, is a very small fraction of the total number of electrons in the
material body. Also only the less tightly bound electrons in a material
body can be transferred from it to another by rubbing. Therefore, when
a body is rubbed with another, the bodies get charged and that is why
we have to stick to certain pairs of materials to notice charging on rubbing
the bodies.

1.3 CONDUCTORS AND INSULATORS


A metal rod held in hand and rubbed with wool will not show any sign of
being charged. However, if a metal rod with a wooden or plastic handle is
rubbed without touching its metal part, it shows signs of charging.
Suppose we connect one end of a copper wire to a neutral pith ball and
the other end to a negatively charged plastic rod. We will find that the
pith ball acquires a negative charge. If a similar experiment is repeated
with a nylon thread or a rubber band, no transfer of charge will take
place from the plastic rod to the pith ball. Why does the transfer of charge
not take place from the rod to the ball?
Some substances readily allow passage of electricity through them,
others do not. Those which allow electricity to pass through them easily
are called conductors. They have electric charges (electrons) that are
comparatively free to move inside the material. Metals, human and animal
bodies and earth are conductors. Most of the non-metals like glass,
porcelain, plastic, nylon, wood offer high resistance to the passage of
electricity through them. They are called insulators. Most substances
fall into one of the two classes stated above*.
When some charge is transferred to a conductor, it readily gets
distributed over the entire surface of the conductor. In contrast, if some
charge is put on an insulator, it stays at the same place. You will learn
why this happens in the next chapter.
This property of the materials tells you why a nylon or plastic comb
gets electrified on combing dry hair or on rubbing, but a metal article
like spoon does not. The charges on metal leak through our body to the
ground as both are conductors of electricity.
When we bring a charged body in contact with the earth, all the
excess charge on the body disappears by causing a momentary current
to pass to the ground through the connecting conductor (such as our
body). This process of sharing the charges with the earth is called
grounding or earthing. Earthing provides a safety measure for electrical
circuits and appliances. A thick metal plate is buried deep into the earth
and thick wires are drawn from this plate; these are used in buildings
for the purpose of earthing near the mains supply. The electric wiring in
our houses has three wires: live, neutral and earth. The first two carry

* There is a third category called semiconductors, which offer resistance to the


movement of charges which is intermediate between the conductors and
insulators.
5

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Physics
electric current from the power station and the third is earthed by
connecting it to the buried metal plate. Metallic bodies of the electric
appliances such as electric iron, refrigerator, TV are connected to the
earth wire. When any fault occurs or live wire touches the metallic body,
the charge flows to the earth without damaging the appliance and without
causing any injury to the humans; this would have otherwise been
unavoidable since the human body is a conductor of electricity.

1.4 CHARGING BY INDUCTION


When we touch a pith ball with an electrified plastic rod, some of the
negative charges on the rod are transferred to the pith ball and it also
gets charged. Thus the pith ball is charged by contact. It is then repelled
by the plastic rod but is attracted by a glass rod which is oppositely
charged. However, why a electrified rod attracts light objects, is a question
we have still left unanswered. Let us try to understand what could be
happening by performing the following experiment.
(i) Bring two metal spheres, A and B, supported on insulating stands,
in contact as shown in Fig. 1.4(a).
(ii) Bring a positively charged rod near one of the spheres, say A, taking
care that it does not touch the sphere. The free electrons in the spheres
are attracted towards the rod. This leaves an excess of positive charge
on the rear surface of sphere B. Both kinds of charges are bound in
the metal spheres and cannot escape. They, therefore, reside on the
surfaces, as shown in Fig. 1.4(b). The left surface of sphere A, has an
excess of negative charge and the right surface of sphere B, has an
excess of positive charge. However, not all of the electrons in the spheres
have accumulated on the left surface of A. As the negative charge
starts building up at the left surface of A, other electrons are repelled
by these. In a short time, equilibrium is reached under the action of
force of attraction of the rod and the force of repulsion due to the
accumulated charges. Fig. 1.4(b) shows the equilibrium situation.
The process is called induction of charge and happens almost
instantly. The accumulated charges remain on the surface, as shown,
till the glass rod is held near the sphere. If the rod is removed, the
charges are not acted by any outside force and they redistribute to
their original neutral state.
(iii) Separate the spheres by a small distance while the glass rod is still
held near sphere A, as shown in Fig. 1.4(c). The two spheres are found
to be oppositely charged and attract each other.
(iv) Remove the rod. The charges on spheres rearrange themselves as
shown in Fig. 1.4(d). Now, separate the spheres quite apart. The
charges on them get uniformly distributed over them, as shown in
Fig. 1.4(e).
In this process, the metal spheres will each be equal and oppositely
charged. This is charging by induction. The positively charged glass rod
does not lose any of its charge, contrary to the process of charging by
FIGURE 1.4 Charging
by induction.
contact.
When electrified rods are brought near light objects, a similar effect
takes place. The rods induce opposite charges on the near surfaces of
6 the objects and similar charges move to the farther side of the object.

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[This happens even when the light object is not a conductor. The
mechanism for how this happens is explained later in Sections 1.10 and
2.10.] The centres of the two types of charges are slightly separated. We
know that opposite charges attract while similar charges repel. However,
the magnitude of force depends on the distance between the charges
and in this case the force of attraction overweighs the force of repulsion.
As a result the particles like bits of paper or pith balls, being light, are
pulled towards the rods.

Example 1.1 How can you charge a metal sphere positively without
touching it?
Solution Figure 1.5(a) shows an uncharged metallic sphere on an

http://www.physicsclassroom.com/mmedia/estatics/itsn.cfm
Interactive animation on charging a two-sphere system by induction:
insulating metal stand. Bring a negatively charged rod close to the
metallic sphere, as shown in Fig. 1.5(b). As the rod is brought close
to the sphere, the free electrons in the sphere move away due to
repulsion and start piling up at the farther end. The near end becomes
positively charged due to deficit of electrons. This process of charge
distribution stops when the net force on the free electrons inside the
metal is zero. Connect the sphere to the ground by a conducting
wire. The electrons will flow to the ground while the positive charges
at the near end will remain held there due to the attractive force of
the negative charges on the rod, as shown in Fig. 1.5(c). Disconnect
the sphere from the ground. The positive charge continues to be
held at the near end [Fig. 1.5(d)]. Remove the electrified rod. The
positive charge will spread uniformly over the sphere as shown in
Fig. 1.5(e).

FIGURE 1.5

In this experiment, the metal sphere gets charged by the process


of induction and the rod does not lose any of its charge.
EXAMPLE 1.1

Similar steps are involved in charging a metal sphere negatively


by induction, by bringing a positively charged rod near it. In this
case the electrons will flow from the ground to the sphere when the
sphere is connected to the ground with a wire. Can you explain why?
7

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1.5 BASIC PROPERTIES OF ELECTRIC CHARGE
We have seen that there are two types of charges, namely positive and
negative and their effects tend to cancel each other. Here, we shall now
describe some other properties of the electric charge.
If the sizes of charged bodies are very small as compared to the
distances between them, we treat them as point charges. All the
charge content of the body is assumed to be concentrated at one point
in space.

1.5.1 Additivity of charges


We have not as yet given a quantitative definition of a charge; we shall
follow it up in the next section. We shall tentatively assume that this can
be done and proceed. If a system contains two point charges q1 and q2,
the total charge of the system is obtained simply by adding algebraically
q1 and q2 , i.e., charges add up like real numbers or they are scalars like
the mass of a body. If a system contains n charges q1, q2, q3, …, qn, then
the total charge of the system is q1 + q2 + q3 + … + qn . Charge has
magnitude but no direction, similar to mass. However, there is one
difference between mass and charge. Mass of a body is always positive
whereas a charge can be either positive or negative. Proper signs have to
be used while adding the charges in a system. For example, the
total charge of a system containing five charges +1, +2, –3, +4 and –5,
in some arbitrary unit, is (+1) + (+2) + (–3) + (+4) + (–5) = –1 in the
same unit.

1.5.2 Charge is conserved


We have already hinted to the fact that when bodies are charged by
rubbing, there is transfer of electrons from one body to the other; no new
charges are either created or destroyed. A picture of particles of electric
charge enables us to understand the idea of conservation of charge. When
we rub two bodies, what one body gains in charge the other body loses.
Within an isolated system consisting of many charged bodies, due to
interactions among the bodies, charges may get redistributed but it is
found that the total charge of the isolated system is always conserved.
Conservation of charge has been established experimentally.
It is not possible to create or destroy net charge carried by any isolated
system although the charge carrying particles may be created or destroyed
in a process. Sometimes nature creates charged particles: a neutron turns
into a proton and an electron. The proton and electron thus created have
equal and opposite charges and the total charge is zero before and after
the creation.

1.5.3 Quantisation of charge


Experimentally it is established that all free charges are integral multiples
of a basic unit of charge denoted by e. Thus charge q on a body is always
given by
8 q = ne

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Electric Charges
and Fields
where n is any integer, positive or negative. This basic unit of charge is the
charge that an electron or proton carries. By convention, the charge on an
electron is taken to be negative; therefore charge on an electron is written
as –e and that on a proton as +e.
The fact that electric charge is always an integral multiple of e is termed
as quantisation of charge. There are a large number of situations in physics
where certain physical quantities are quantised. The quantisation of charge
was first suggested by the experimental laws of electrolysis discovered by
English experimentalist Faraday. It was experimentally demonstrated by
Millikan in 1912.
In the International System (SI) of Units, a unit of charge is called a
coulomb and is denoted by the symbol C. A coulomb is defined in terms
the unit of the electric current which you are going to learn in a subsequent
chapter. In terms of this definition, one coulomb is the charge flowing
through a wire in 1 s if the current is 1 A (ampere), (see Chapter 2 of Class
XI, Physics Textbook , Part I). In this system, the value of the basic unit of
charge is
e = 1.602192 × 10–19 C
Thus, there are about 6 × 1018 electrons in a charge of –1C. In
electrostatics, charges of this large magnitude are seldom encountered
and hence we use smaller units 1 µC (micro coulomb) = 10–6 C or 1 mC
(milli coulomb) = 10–3 C.
If the protons and electrons are the only basic charges in the universe,
all the observable charges have to be integral multiples of e. Thus, if a
body contains n1 electrons and n 2 protons, the total amount of charge on
the body is n 2 × e + n1 × (–e) = (n 2 – n1) e. Since n1 and n2 are integers, their
difference is also an integer. Thus the charge on any body is always an
integral multiple of e and can be increased or decreased also in steps of e.
The step size e is, however, very small because at the macroscopic
level, we deal with charges of a few µC. At this scale the fact that charge of
a body can increase or decrease in units of e is not visible. In this respect,
the grainy nature of the charge is lost and it appears to be continuous.
This situation can be compared with the geometrical concepts of points
and lines. A dotted line viewed from a distance appears continuous to
us but is not continuous in reality. As many points very close to
each other normally give an impression of a continuous line, many
small charges taken together appear as a continuous charge
distribution.
At the macroscopic level, one deals with charges that are enormous
compared to the magnitude of charge e. Since e = 1.6 × 10–19 C, a charge
of magnitude, say 1 µC, contains something like 1013 times the electronic
charge. At this scale, the fact that charge can increase or decrease only in
units of e is not very different from saying that charge can take continuous
values. Thus, at the macroscopic level, the quantisation of charge has no
practical consequence and can be ignored. However, at the microscopic
level, where the charges involved are of the order of a few tens or hundreds
of e, i.e., they can be counted, they appear in discrete lumps and 9

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Physics
quantisation of charge cannot be ignored. It is the magnitude of scale
involved that is very important.

Example 1.2 If 109 electrons move out of a body to another body


every second, how much time is required to get a total charge of 1 C
on the other body?
Solution In one second 109 electrons move out of the body. Therefore
the charge given out in one second is 1.6 × 10–19 × 109 C = 1.6 × 10–10 C.
The time required to accumulate a charge of 1 C can then be estimated
to be 1 C ÷ (1.6 × 10–10 C/s) = 6.25 × 109 s = 6.25 × 109 ÷ (365 × 24 ×
3600) years = 198 years. Thus to collect a charge of one coulomb,
from a body from which 109 electrons move out every second, we will
need approximately 200 years. One coulomb is, therefore, a very large
EXAMPLE 1.2

unit for many practical purposes.


It is, however, also important to know what is roughly the number of
electrons contained in a piece of one cubic centimetre of a material.
A cubic piece of copper of side 1 cm contains about 2.5 × 10 24
electrons.

Example 1.3 How much positive and negative charge is there in a


cup of water?
Solution Let us assume that the mass of one cup of water is
250 g. The molecular mass of water is 18g. Thus, one mole
(= 6.02 × 1023 molecules) of water is 18 g. Therefore the number of
EXAMPLE 1.3

molecules in one cup of water is (250/18) × 6.02 × 1023.


Each molecule of water contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen
atom, i.e., 10 electrons and 10 protons. Hence the total positive and
total negative charge has the same magnitude. It is equal to
(250/18) × 6.02 × 1023 × 10 × 1.6 × 10–19 C = 1.34 × 107 C.

1.6 COULOMB’S LAW


Coulomb’s law is a quantitative statement about the force between two
point charges. When the linear size of charged bodies are much smaller
than the distance separating them, the size may be ignored and the
charged bodies are treated as point charges. Coulomb measured the
force between two point charges and found that it varied inversely as
the square of the distance between the charges and was directly
proportional to the product of the magnitude of the two charges and
acted along the line joining the two charges. Thus, if two point charges
q1, q2 are separated by a distance r in vacuum, the magnitude of the
force (F) between them is given by
q1 q 2
F =k (1.1)
r2
How did Coulomb arrive at this law from his experiments? Coulomb
used a torsion balance* for measuring the force between two charged metallic

* A torsion balance is a sensitive device to measure force. It was also used later
by Cavendish to measure the very feeble gravitational force between two objects,
10 to verify Newton’s Law of Gravitation.

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Electric Charges
and Fields
spheres. When the separation between two spheres is much
larger than the radius of each sphere, the charged spheres
may be regarded as point charges. However, the charges
on the spheres were unknown, to begin with. How then
could he discover a relation like Eq. (1.1)? Coulomb
thought of the following simple way: Suppose the charge
on a metallic sphere is q. If the sphere is put in contact
with an identical uncharged sphere, the charge will spread
over the two spheres. By symmetry, the charge on each
sphere will be q/2*. Repeating this process, we can get
charges q/2, q/4, etc. Coulomb varied the distance for a
fixed pair of charges and measured the force for different
separations. He then varied the charges in pairs, keeping

CHARLES AUGUSTIN DE COULOMB (1736 –1806)


the distance fixed for each pair. Comparing forces for Charles Augustin de
different pairs of charges at different distances, Coulomb Coulomb (1736 – 1806)
arrived at the relation, Eq. (1.1). Coulomb, a French
Coulomb’s law, a simple mathematical statement, physicist, began his career
was initially experimentally arrived at in the manner as a military engineer in
described above. While the original experiments the West Indies. In 1776, he
established it at a macroscopic scale, it has also been returned to Paris and
–10 retired to a small estate to
established down to subatomic level (r ~ 10 m).
do his scientific research.
Coulomb discovered his law without knowing the
He invented a torsion
explicit magnitude of the charge. In fact, it is the other balance to measure the
way round: Coulomb’s law can now be employed to quantity of a force and used
furnish a definition for a unit of charge. In the relation, it for determination of
Eq. (1.1), k is so far arbitrary. We can choose any positive forces of electric attraction
value of k. The choice of k determines the size of the unit or repulsion between small
of charge. In SI units, the value of k is about 9 × 109 charged spheres. He thus
Nm 2 arrived in 1785 at the
. The unit of charge that results from this choice is inverse square law relation,
C2 now known as Coulomb’s
called a coulomb which we defined earlier in Section
law. The law had been
1.4. Putting this value of k in Eq. (1.1), we see that for
anticipated by Priestley and
q1 = q2 = 1 C, r = 1 m also by Cavendish earlier,
F = 9 × 109 N though Cavendish never
That is, 1 C is the charge that when placed at a published his results.
distance of 1 m from another charge of the same Coulomb also found the
magnitude in vacuum experiences an electrical force of inverse square law of force
9 between unlike and like
repulsion of magnitude 9 × 10 N. One coulomb is
magnetic poles.
evidently too big a unit to be used. In practice, in
electrostatics, one uses smaller units like 1 mC or 1 µC.
The constant k in Eq. (1.1) is usually put as
k = 1/4πε0 for later convenience, so that Coulomb’s law is written as
1 q1 q2
F = (1.2)
4 π ε0 r2
ε 0 is called the permittivity of free space . The value of ε 0 in SI units is
ε 0 = 8.854 × 10–12 C2 N–1m–2

* Implicit in this is the assumption of additivity of charges and conservation:


two charges (q/2 each) add up to make a total charge q.
11

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Physics
Since force is a vector, it is better to write
Coulomb’s law in the vector notation. Let the
position vectors of charges q1 and q2 be r1 and r2
respectively [see Fig.1.6(a)]. We denote force on
q1 due to q2 by F12 and force on q2 due to q1 by
F21. The two point charges q1 and q2 have been
numbered 1 and 2 for convenience and the vector
leading from 1 to 2 is denoted by r21:
r21 = r2 – r1
In the same way, the vector leading from 2 to
1 is denoted by r12:
r12 = r1 – r2 = – r21
The magnitude of the vectors r21 and r12 is
denoted by r21 and r12 , respectively (r12 = r21). The
direction of a vector is specified by a unit vector
along the vector. To denote the direction from 1
to 2 (or from 2 to 1), we define the unit vectors:
FIGURE 1.6 (a) Geometry and r r
(b) Forces between charges.

r 21 = 21 , 
r 12 = 12 , 
r 21 = 
r 12
r21 r12
Coulomb’s force law between two point charges q1 and q2 located at
r1 and r2 is then expressed as

1 q1 q 2 
F21 = 2
r 21 (1.3)
4 π εo r21

Some remarks on Eq. (1.3) are relevant:


• Equation (1.3) is valid for any sign of q1 and q2 whether positive or
negative. If q1 and q2 are of the same sign (either both positive or both
negative), F21 is along r̂ 21, which denotes repulsion, as it should be for
like charges. If q1 and q2 are of opposite signs, F21 is along – r 21(= r 12),
which denotes attraction, as expected for unlike charges. Thus, we do
not have to write separate equations for the cases of like and unlike
charges. Equation (1.3) takes care of both cases correctly [Fig. 1.6(b)].
• The force F12 on charge q1 due to charge q2, is obtained from Eq. (1.3),
by simply interchanging 1 and 2, i.e.,

1 q1 q 2 
F12 = 2
r 12 = −F21
4 π ε0 r12

Thus, Coulomb’s law agrees with the Newton’s third law.


• Coulomb’s law [Eq. (1.3)] gives the force between two charges q1 and
q2 in vacuum. If the charges are placed in matter or the intervening
space has matter, the situation gets complicated due to the presence
of charged constituents of matter. We shall consider electrostatics in
12
matter in the next chapter.

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Example 1.4 Coulomb’s law for electrostatic force between two point
charges and Newton’s law for gravitational force between two
stationary point masses, both have inverse-square dependence on
the distance between the charges and masses respectively.
(a) Compare the strength of these forces by determining the ratio of
their magnitudes (i) for an electron and a proton and (ii) for two
protons. (b) Estimate the accelerations of electron and proton due to
the electrical force of their mutual attraction when they are
1 Å (= 10-10 m) apart? (mp = 1.67 × 10–27 kg, me = 9.11 × 10–31 kg)
Solution
(a) (i) The electric force between an electron and a proton at a distance

http://webphysics.davidson.edu/physlet_resources/bu_semester2/menu_semester2.html
Interactive animation on Coulomb’s law:
r apart is:
1 e2
Fe = −
4 πε 0 r 2
where the negative sign indicates that the force is attractive. The
corresponding gravitational force (always attractive) is:
mp me
FG = −G
r2
where mp and me are the masses of a proton and an electron
respectively.
Fe e2
= = 2.4 × 1039
FG 4 πε 0Gm pm e
(ii) On similar lines, the ratio of the magnitudes of electric force
to the gravitational force between two protons at a distance r
apart is:
Fe e2
= = 1.3 × 1036
FG 4πε 0Gm p m p
However, it may be mentioned here that the signs of the two forces
are different. For two protons, the gravitational force is attractive
in nature and the Coulomb force is repulsive. The actual values
of these forces between two protons inside a nucleus (distance
between two protons is ~ 10-15 m inside a nucleus) are Fe ~ 230 N,
whereas, FG ~ 1.9 × 10–34 N.
The (dimensionless) ratio of the two forces shows that electrical
forces are enormously stronger than the gravitational forces.
(b) The electric force F exerted by a proton on an electron is same in
magnitude to the force exerted by an electron on a proton; however,
the masses of an electron and a proton are different. Thus, the
magnitude of force is
1 e2
|F| = = 8.987 × 109 Nm2/C2 × (1.6 ×10–19C)2 / (10–10m)2
4 πε 0 r 2
= 2.3 × 10–8 N
Using Newton’s second law of motion, F = ma, the acceleration
that an electron will undergo is
a = 2.3×10–8 N / 9.11 ×10–31 kg = 2.5 × 1022 m/s2
Comparing this with the value of acceleration due to gravity, we
EXAMPLE 1.4

can conclude that the effect of gravitational field is negligible on


the motion of electron and it undergoes very large accelerations
under the action of Coulomb force due to a proton.
The value for acceleration of the proton is
2.3 × 10–8 N / 1.67 × 10–27 kg = 1.4 × 1019 m/s2 13

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Example 1.5 A charged metallic sphere A is suspended by a nylon
thread. Another charged metallic sphere B held by an insulating
handle is brought close to A such that the distance between their
centres is 10 cm, as shown in Fig. 1.7(a). The resulting repulsion of A
is noted (for example, by shining a beam of light and measuring the
deflection of its shadow on a screen). Spheres A and B are touched
by uncharged spheres C and D respectively, as shown in Fig. 1.7(b).
C and D are then removed and B is brought closer to A to a
distance of 5.0 cm between their centres, as shown in Fig. 1.7(c).
What is the expected repulsion of A on the basis of Coulomb’s law?
Spheres A and C and spheres B and D have identical sizes. Ignore
the sizes of A and B in comparison to the separation between their
centres.
EXAMPLE 1.5

14 FIGURE 1.7

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Solution Let the original charge on sphere A be q and that on B be


q′. At a distance r between their centres, the magnitude of the
electrostatic force on each is given by
1 qq ′
F =
4 πε 0 r 2
neglecting the sizes of spheres A and B in comparison to r. When an
identical but uncharged sphere C touches A, the charges redistribute
on A and C and, by symmetry, each sphere carries a charge q/2.
Similarly, after D touches B, the redistributed charge on each is
q′/2. Now, if the separation between A and B is halved, the magnitude
of the electrostatic force on each is

EXAMPLE 1.5
1 (q / 2 )(q ′ / 2) 1 (qq ′ )
F′ = = =F
4 πε 0 (r / 2)2 4 πε 0 r 2

Thus the electrostatic force on A, due to B, remains unaltered.

1.7 FORCES BETWEEN MULTIPLE CHARGES


The mutual electric force between two charges is given
by Coulomb’s law. How to calculate the force on a
charge where there are not one but several charges
around? Consider a system of n stationary charges
q1, q2, q3, ..., qn in vacuum. What is the force on q1 due
to q2, q3, ..., qn? Coulomb’s law is not enough to answer
this question. Recall that forces of mechanical origin
add according to the parallelogram law of addition. Is
the same true for forces of electrostatic origin?
Experimentally, it is verified that force on any
charge due to a number of other charges is the vector
sum of all the forces on that charge due to the other
charges, taken one at a time. The individual forces
are unaffected due to the presence of other charges.
This is termed as the principle of superposition.
To better understand the concept, consider a
system of three charges q1, q2 and q3, as shown in
Fig. 1.8(a). The force on one charge, say q1, due to two
other charges q2, q3 can therefore be obtained by
performing a vector addition of the forces due to each
one of these charges. Thus, if the force on q1 due to q2
is denoted by F12, F12 is given by Eq. (1.3) even though
other charges are present.
1 q1q 2
Thus, F12 = 2
r̂12
4 πε 0 r12
In the same way, the force on q1 due to q3, denoted FIGURE 1.8 A system of (a) three
by F13, is given by charges (b) multiple charges.
1 q1q3
F13 = rˆ13
2
4 πε 0 r13 15

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which again is the Coulomb force on q1 due to q3, even though other
charge q2 is present.
Thus the total force F1 on q1 due to the two charges q2 and q3 is
given as
1 q1q 2 1 q1q 3
F1 = F12 + F13 = 2
rˆ12 + 2
rˆ13 (1.4)
4 πε 0 r12 4 πε 0 r13
The above calculation of force can be generalised to a system of
charges more than three, as shown in Fig. 1.8(b).
The principle of superposition says that in a system of charges q1,
q2, ..., qn, the force on q1 due to q2 is the same as given by Coulomb’s law,
i.e., it is unaffected by the presence of the other charges q3, q4, ..., qn. The
total force F1 on the charge q1, due to all other charges, is then given by
the vector sum of the forces F12, F13, ..., F1n:
i.e.,

1  q1q 2 q1q 3 q1qn 


F1 = F12 + F13 + ...+ F1n =  2 rˆ12 + 2 rˆ13 + ... + 2 rˆ1n 
4 πε 0  r12 r13 r1n 

q1 n qi
= ∑ r̂1i
4πε 0 i = 2 r12i (1.5)
The vector sum is obtained as usual by the parallelogram law of
addition of vectors. All of electrostatics is basically a consequence of
Coulomb’s law and the superposition principle.

Example 1.6 Consider three charges q1, q2, q3 each equal to q at the
vertices of an equilateral triangle of side l. What is the force on a
charge Q (with the same sign as q) placed at the centroid of the
triangle, as shown in Fig. 1.9?

FIGURE 1.9
EXAMPLE 1.6

Solution In the given equilateral triangle ABC of sides of length l, if


we draw a perpendicular AD to the side BC,
AD = AC cos 30º = ( 3 /2 ) l and the distance AO of the centroid O
16 from A is (2/3) AD = ( 1/ 3 ) l. By symmatry AO = BO = CO.

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Thus,
3 Qq
Force F1 on Q due to charge q at A = along AO
4 πε 0 l2
3 Qq
Force F2 on Q due to charge q at B = 4 πε along BO
0 l2
3 Qq
Force F3 on Q due to charge q at C = 4 πε 2 along CO
0 l

3 Qq
The resultant of forces F 2 and F 3 is 4 πε 2 along OA, by the
0 l

3 Qq
parallelogram law. Therefore, the total force on Q = 4 πε 2 ( rˆ − rˆ )
0 l

EXAMPLE 1.6
= 0, where r̂ is the unit vector along OA.
It is clear also by symmetry that the three forces will sum to zero.
Suppose that the resultant force was non-zero but in some direction.
Consider what would happen if the system was rotated through 60°
about O.

Example 1.7 Consider the charges q, q, and –q placed at the vertices


of an equilateral triangle, as shown in Fig. 1.10. What is the force on
each charge?

FIGURE 1.10

Solution The forces acting on charge q at A due to charges q at B


and –q at C are F12 along BA and F13 along AC respectively, as shown
in Fig. 1.10. By the parallelogram law, the total force F1 on the charge
q at A is given by
F1 = F r̂1 where r̂1 is a unit vector along BC.
The force of attraction or repulsion for each pair of charges has the
EXAMPLE 1.7

q2
same magnitude F =
4 π ε0 l 2

The total force F2 on charge q at B is thus F2 = F r̂ 2, where r̂ 2 is a


unit vector along AC. 17

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Similarly the total force on charge –q at C is F3 = 3 F n̂ , where n̂ is
the unit vector along the direction bisecting the ∠BCA.
It is interesting to see that the sum of the forces on the three charges
EXAMPLE 1.7 is zero, i.e.,
F1 + F2 + F3 = 0
The result is not at all surprising. It follows straight from the fact
that Coulomb’s law is consistent with Newton’s third law. The proof
is left to you as an exercise.

1.8 ELECTRIC FIELD


Let us consider a point charge Q placed in vacuum, at the origin O. If we
place another point charge q at a point P, where OP = r, then the charge Q
will exert a force on q as per Coulomb’s law. We may ask the question: If
charge q is removed, then what is left in the surrounding? Is there
nothing? If there is nothing at the point P, then how does a force act
when we place the charge q at P. In order to answer such questions, the
early scientists introduced the concept of field. According to this, we say
that the charge Q produces an electric field everywhere in the surrounding.
When another charge q is brought at some point P, the field there acts on
it and produces a force. The electric field produced by the charge Q at a
point r is given as
1 Q 1 Q
E ( r) = rˆ = rˆ (1.6)
4πε 0 r 2 4πε 0 r 2
where rˆ = r/r, is a unit vector from the origin to the point r. Thus, Eq.(1.6)
specifies the value of the electric field for each value of the position
vector r. The word “field” signifies how some distributed quantity (which
could be a scalar or a vector) varies with position. The effect of the charge
has been incorporated in the existence of the electric field. We obtain the
force F exerted by a charge Q on a charge q, as
1 Qq
F= rˆ (1.7)
4 πε 0 r 2
Note that the charge q also exerts an equal and opposite force on the
charge Q. The electrostatic force between the charges Q and q can be
looked upon as an interaction between charge q and the electric field of
Q and vice versa. If we denote the position of charge q by the vector r, it
experiences a force F equal to the charge q multiplied by the electric
field E at the location of q. Thus,
F(r) = q E(r) (1.8)
Equation (1.8) defines the SI unit of electric field as N/C*.
Some important remarks may be made here:
(i) From Eq. (1.8), we can infer that if q is unity, the electric field due to
FIGURE 1.11 Electric a charge Q is numerically equal to the force exerted by it. Thus, the
field (a) due to a electric field due to a charge Q at a point in space may be defined
charge Q, (b) due to a as the force that a unit positive charge would experience if placed
charge –Q.
18 * An alternate unit V/m will be introduced in the next chapter.

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at that point. The charge Q, which is producing the electric field, is
called a source charge and the charge q, which tests the effect of a
source charge, is called a test charge. Note that the source charge Q
must remain at its original location. However, if a charge q is brought
at any point around Q, Q itself is bound to experience an electrical
force due to q and will tend to move. A way out of this difficulty is to
make q negligibly small. The force F is then negligibly small but the
ratio F/q is finite and defines the electric field:
 F
E = lim   (1.9)
q →0  q 

A practical way to get around the problem (of keeping Q undisturbed


in the presence of q) is to hold Q to its location by unspecified forces!
This may look strange but actually this is what happens in practice.
When we are considering the electric force on a test charge q due to a
charged planar sheet (Section 1.15), the charges on the sheet are held to
their locations by the forces due to the unspecified charged constituents
inside the sheet.
(ii) Note that the electric field E due to Q, though defined operationally
in terms of some test charge q, is independent of q. This is because
F is proportional to q, so the ratio F/q does not depend on q. The
force F on the charge q due to the charge Q depends on the particular
location of charge q which may take any value in the space around
the charge Q. Thus, the electric field E due to Q is also dependent on
the space coordinate r. For different positions of the charge q all over
the space, we get different values of electric field E. The field exists at
every point in three-dimensional space.
(iii) For a positive charge, the electric field will be directed radially
outwards from the charge. On the other hand, if the source charge is
negative, the electric field vector, at each point, points radially inwards.
(iv) Since the magnitude of the force F on charge q due to charge Q
depends only on the distance r of the charge q from charge Q,
the magnitude of the electric field E will also depend only on the
distance r. Thus at equal distances from the charge Q, the magnitude
of its electric field E is same. The magnitude of electric field E due to
a point charge is thus same on a sphere with the point charge at its
centre; in other words, it has a spherical symmetry.

1.8.1 Electric field due to a system of charges


Consider a system of charges q1, q2, ..., qn with position vectors r1,
r2, ..., rn relative to some origin O. Like the electric field at a point in
space due to a single charge, electric field at a point in space due to the
system of charges is defined to be the force experienced by a unit
test charge placed at that point, without disturbing the original
positions of charges q1, q2, ..., qn. We can use Coulomb’s law and the
superposition principle to determine this field at a point P denoted by
position vector r. 19

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Electric field E1 at r due to q1 at r1 is given by
1 q1
E1 = r̂1P
4 πε 0 r12P
where r̂1P is a unit vector in the direction from q1 to P,
and r1P is the distance between q1 and P.
In the same manner, electric field E2 at r due to q2 at
r2 is
1 q2
E2 = r̂2P
4 πε 0 r22P
where r̂2P is a unit vector in the direction from q2 to P
FIGURE 1.12 Electric field at a and r 2P is the distance between q 2 and P. Similar
point due to a system of charges is expressions hold good for fields E3, E4, ..., En due to
the vector sum of the electric fields charges q3, q4, ..., qn.
at the point due to individual By the superposition principle, the electric field E at r
charges. due to the system of charges is (as shown in Fig. 1.12)
E(r) = E1 (r) + E2 (r) + … + En(r)
1 q1 1 q2 1 qn
= rˆ +
2 1P 2
rˆ2 P + ... + rˆnP
4 πε 0 r1P 4 πε 0 r2 P 4 πε 0 rn2P

1 n
q
E(r) =
4π ε 0
∑ r 2i r̂i P (1.10)
i =1 i P

E is a vector quantity that varies from one point to another point in space
and is determined from the positions of the source charges.

1.8.2 Physical significance of electric field


You may wonder why the notion of electric field has been introduced
here at all. After all, for any system of charges, the measurable quantity
is the force on a charge which can be directly determined using Coulomb’s
law and the superposition principle [Eq. (1.5)]. Why then introduce this
intermediate quantity called the electric field?
For electrostatics, the concept of electric field is convenient, but not
really necessary. Electric field is an elegant way of characterising the
electrical environment of a system of charges. Electric field at a point in
the space around a system of charges tells you the force a unit positive
test charge would experience if placed at that point (without disturbing
the system). Electric field is a characteristic of the system of charges and
is independent of the test charge that you place at a point to determine
the field. The term field in physics generally refers to a quantity that is
defined at every point in space and may vary from point to point. Electric
field is a vector field, since force is a vector quantity.
The true physical significance of the concept of electric field, however,
emerges only when we go beyond electrostatics and deal with time-
dependent electromagnetic phenomena. Suppose we consider the force
between two distant charges q1, q2 in accelerated motion. Now the greatest
speed with which a signal or information can go from one point to another
20 is c, the speed of light. Thus, the effect of any motion of q1 on q2 cannot

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arise instantaneously. There will be some time delay between the effect
(force on q2) and the cause (motion of q1). It is precisely here that the
notion of electric field (strictly, electromagnetic field) is natural and very
useful. The field picture is this: the accelerated motion of charge q1
produces electromagnetic waves, which then propagate with the speed
c, reach q2 and cause a force on q2. The notion of field elegantly accounts
for the time delay. Thus, even though electric and magnetic fields can be
detected only by their effects (forces) on charges, they are regarded as
physical entities, not merely mathematical constructs. They have an
independent dynamics of their own, i.e., they evolve according to laws
of their own. They can also transport energy. Thus, a source of time-
dependent electromagnetic fields, turned on for a short interval of time
and then switched off, leaves behind propagating electromagnetic fields
transporting energy. The concept of field was first introduced by Faraday
and is now among the central concepts in physics.

Example 1.8 An electron falls through a distance of 1.5 cm in a


uniform electric field of magnitude 2.0 × 104 N C–1 [Fig. 1.13(a)]. The
direction of the field is reversed keeping its magnitude unchanged
and a proton falls through the same distance [Fig. 1.13(b)]. Compute
the time of fall in each case. Contrast the situation with that of ‘free
fall under gravity’.

FIGURE 1.13
Solution In Fig. 1.13(a) the field is upward, so the negatively charged
electron experiences a downward force of magnitude eE where E is
the magnitude of the electric field. The acceleration of the electron is
ae = eE/me
where me is the mass of the electron.

Starting from rest, the time required by the electron to fall through a
2h 2h m e
distance h is given by t e = =
ae eE
For e = 1.6 × 10–19C, me = 9.11 × 10–31 kg,
E = 2.0 × 104 N C–1, h = 1.5 × 10–2 m,
te = 2.9 × 10–9s
In Fig. 1.13 (b), the field is downward, and the positively charged
proton experiences a downward force of magnitude eE . The
EXAMPLE 1.8

acceleration of the proton is


ap = eE/mp
where mp is the mass of the proton; mp = 1.67 × 10–27 kg. The time of
fall for the proton is
21

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2h 2h m p
tp = = = 1.3 × 10 –7 s
ap eE
Thus, the heavier particle (proton) takes a greater time to fall through
the same distance. This is in basic contrast to the situation of ‘free
fall under gravity’ where the time of fall is independent of the mass of
the body. Note that in this example we have ignored the acceleration
due to gravity in calculating the time of fall. To see if this is justified,
let us calculate the acceleration of the proton in the given electric
field:
eE
ap =
mp

(1.6 × 10−19 C) × (2.0 × 10 4 N C −1 )


=
1.67 × 10 −27 kg
EXAMPLE 1.8

= 1.9 × 1012 m s –2
which is enormous compared to the value of g (9.8 m s –2), the
acceleration due to gravity. The acceleration of the electron is even
greater. Thus, the effect of acceleration due to gravity can be ignored
in this example.

Example 1.9 Two point charges q1 and q2, of magnitude +10–8 C and
–10–8 C, respectively, are placed 0.1 m apart. Calculate the electric
fields at points A, B and C shown in Fig. 1.14.

FIGURE 1.14
Solution The electric field vector E1A at A due to the positive charge
q1 points towards the right and has a magnitude
(9 × 109 Nm 2C-2 ) × (10 −8 C)
E1A = = 3.6 × 104 N C–1
(0.05 m)2
The electric field vector E2A at A due to the negative charge q2 points
EXAMPLE 1.9

towards the right and has the same magnitude. Hence the magnitude
of the total electric field EA at A is
EA = E1A + E2A = 7.2 × 104 N C–1
EA is directed toward the right.
22

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The electric field vector E1B at B due to the positive charge q1 points
towards the left and has a magnitude
(9 × 109 Nm2 C –2 ) × (10 −8 C)
E1B = = 3.6 × 104 N C–1
(0.05 m)2
The electric field vector E2B at B due to the negative charge q2 points
towards the right and has a magnitude
(9 × 109 Nm 2 C –2 ) × (10 −8 C)
E 2B = = 4 × 103 N C–1
(0.15 m)2
The magnitude of the total electric field at B is
EB = E1B – E2B = 3.2 × 104 N C–1
EB is directed towards the left.
The magnitude of each electric field vector at point C, due to charge
q1 and q2 is
(9 × 109 Nm 2C –2 ) × (10−8 C)
E1C = E2C = = 9 × 103 N C–1
(0.10 m)2
The directions in which these two vectors point are indicated in

EXAMPLE 1.9
Fig. 1.14. The resultant of these two vectors is
π π
E C = E1 cos + E 2 cos = 9 × 103 N C–1
3 3
EC points towards the right.

1.9 ELECTRIC FIELD LINES


We have studied electric field in the last section. It is a vector quantity
and can be represented as we represent vectors. Let us try to represent E
due to a point charge pictorially. Let the point charge be placed at the
origin. Draw vectors pointing along the direction of the electric field with
their lengths proportional to the strength of the field at
each point. Since the magnitude of electric field at a point
decreases inversely as the square of the distance of that
point from the charge, the vector gets shorter as one goes
away from the origin, always pointing radially outward.
Figure 1.15 shows such a picture. In this figure, each
arrow indicates the electric field, i.e., the force acting on a
unit positive charge, placed at the tail of that arrow.
Connect the arrows pointing in one direction and the
resulting figure represents a field line. We thus get many
field lines, all pointing outwards from the point charge.
Have we lost the information about the strength or
magnitude of the field now, because it was contained in
the length of the arrow? No. Now the magnitude of the
field is represented by the density of field lines. E is strong
near the charge, so the density of field lines is more near
the charge and the lines are closer. Away from the charge, FIGURE 1.15 Field of a point charge.
the field gets weaker and the density of field lines is less,
resulting in well-separated lines.
Another person may draw more lines. But the number of lines is not
important. In fact, an infinite number of lines can be drawn in any region. 23

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It is the relative density of lines in different regions which is
important.
We draw the figure on the plane of paper, i.e., in two-
dimensions but we live in three-dimensions. So if one wishes
to estimate the density of field lines, one has to consider the
number of lines per unit cross-sectional area, perpendicular
to the lines. Since the electric field decreases as the square of
the distance from a point charge and the area enclosing the
charge increases as the square of the distance, the number
of field lines crossing the enclosing area remains constant,
whatever may be the distance of the area from the charge.
We started by saying that the field lines carry information
about the direction of electric field at different points in space.
FIGURE 1.16 Dependence of
Having drawn a certain set of field lines, the relative density
electric field strength on the
distance and its relation to the (i.e., closeness) of the field lines at different points indicates
number of field lines. the relative strength of electric field at those points. The field
lines crowd where the field is strong and are spaced apart
where it is weak. Figure 1.16 shows a set of field lines. We
can imagine two equal and small elements of area placed at points R and
S normal to the field lines there. The number of field lines in our picture
cutting the area elements is proportional to the magnitude of field at
these points. The picture shows that the field at R is stronger than at S.
To understand the dependence of the field lines on the area, or rather
the solid angle subtended by an area element, let us try to relate the
area with the solid angle, a generalisation of angle to three dimensions.
Recall how a (plane) angle is defined in two-dimensions. Let a small
transverse line element ∆l be placed at a distance r from a point O. Then
the angle subtended by ∆l at O can be approximated as ∆θ = ∆l/r.
Likewise, in three-dimensions the solid angle* subtended by a small
perpendicular plane area ∆S, at a distance r, can be written as
∆Ω = ∆S/r2. We know that in a given solid angle the number of radial
field lines is the same. In Fig. 1.16, for two points P1 and P2 at distances
r1 and r2 from the charge, the element of area subtending the solid angle
∆Ω is r12 ∆Ω at P1 and an element of area r22 ∆Ω at P2, respectively. The
number of lines (say n) cutting these area elements are the same. The
number of field lines, cutting unit area element is therefore n/( r12 ∆Ω) at
P1 and n/( r22 ∆Ω) at P2 , respectively. Since n and ∆Ω are common, the
strength of the field clearly has a 1/r 2 dependence.
The picture of field lines was invented by Faraday to develop an
intuitive non-mathematical way of visualising electric fields around
charged configurations. Faraday called them lines of force. This term is
somewhat misleading, especially in case of magnetic fields. The more
appropriate term is field lines (electric or magnetic) that we have
adopted in this book.
Electric field lines are thus a way of pictorially mapping the electric
field around a configuration of charges. An electric field line is, in general,

* Solid angle is a measure of a cone. Consider the intersection of the given cone
with a sphere of radius R. The solid angle ∆Ω of the cone is defined to be equal
24 2
to ∆S/R , where ∆S is the area on the sphere cut out by the cone.

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a curve drawn in such a way that the tangent to it at each
point is in the direction of the net field at that point. An
arrow on the curve is obviously necessary to specify the
direction of electric field from the two possible directions
indicated by a tangent to the curve. A field line is a space
curve, i.e., a curve in three dimensions.
Figure 1.17 shows the field lines around some simple
charge configurations. As mentioned earlier, the field lines
are in 3-dimensional space, though the figure shows them
only in a plane. The field lines of a single positive charge
are radially outward while those of a single negative
charge are radially inward. The field lines around a system
of two positive charges (q, q) give a vivid pictorial
description of their mutual repulsion, while those around
the configuration of two equal and opposite charges
(q, –q), a dipole, show clearly the mutual attraction
between the charges. The field lines follow some important
general properties:
(i) Field lines start from positive charges and end at
negative charges. If there is a single charge, they may
start or end at infinity.
(ii) In a charge-free region, electric field lines can be taken
to be continuous curves without any breaks.
(iii) Two field lines can never cross each other. (If they did,
the field at the point of intersection will not have a
unique direction, which is absurd.)
(iv) Electrostatic field lines do not form any closed loops.
This follows from the conservative nature of electric
field (Chapter 2).

1.10 ELECTRIC FLUX


Consider flow of a liquid with velocity v, through a small
flat surface dS, in a direction normal to the surface. The
rate of flow of liquid is given by the volume crossing the
area per unit time v dS and represents the flux of liquid
flowing across the plane. If the normal to the surface is
not parallel to the direction of flow of liquid, i.e., to v, but
makes an angle θ with it, the projected area in a plane
perpendicular to v is v dS cos θ. Therefore, the flux going
out of the surface dS is v. n̂ dS. For the case of the electric
field, we define an analogous quantity and call it electric
flux. We should, however, note that there is no flow of a
physically observable quantity unlike the case of
liquid flow.
In the picture of electric field lines described above,
we saw that the number of field lines crossing a unit area, FIGURE 1.17 Field lines due to
some simple charge configurations.
placed normal to the field at a point is a measure of the
strength of electric field at that point. This means that if 25

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we place a small planar element of area ∆S
normal to E at a point, the number of field lines
crossing it is proportional* to E ∆S. Now
suppose we tilt the area element by angle θ.
Clearly, the number of field lines crossing the
area element will be smaller. The projection of
the area element normal to E is ∆S cosθ. Thus,
the number of field lines crossing ∆S is
proportional to E ∆S cosθ. When θ = 90°, field
lines will be parallel to ∆S and will not cross it
at all (Fig. 1.18).
The orientation of area element and not
merely its magnitude is important in many
contexts. For example, in a stream, the amount
of water flowing through a ring will naturally
depend on how you hold the ring. If you hold
it normal to the flow, maximum water will flow
FIGURE 1.18 Dependence of flux on the
inclination θ between E and n̂ . through it than if you hold it with some other
orientation. This shows that an area element
should be treated as a vector. It has a
magnitude and also a direction. How to specify the direction of a planar
area? Clearly, the normal to the plane specifies the orientation of the
plane. Thus the direction of a planar area vector is along its normal.
How to associate a vector to the area of a curved surface? We imagine
dividing the surface into a large number of very small area elements.
Each small area element may be treated as planar and a vector associated
with it, as explained before.
Notice one ambiguity here. The direction of an area element is along
its normal. But a normal can point in two directions. Which direction do
we choose as the direction of the vector associated with the area element?
This problem is resolved by some convention appropriate to the given
context. For the case of a closed surface, this convention is very simple.
The vector associated with every area element of a closed surface is taken
to be in the direction of the outward normal. This is the convention used
in Fig. 1.19. Thus, the area element vector ∆S at a point on a closed
surface equals ∆S n̂ where ∆S is the magnitude of the area element and
n̂ is a unit vector in the direction of outward normal at that point.
We now come to the definition of electric flux. Electric flux ∆φ through
an area element ∆S is defined by
∆φ = E.∆S = E ∆S cosθ (1.11)
which, as seen before, is proportional to the number of field lines cutting
the area element. The angle θ here is the angle between E and ∆S. For a
closed surface, with the convention stated already, θ is the angle between
FIGURE 1.19 E and the outward normal to the area element. Notice we could look at
Convention for the expression E ∆S cosθ in two ways: E (∆S cosθ ) i.e., E times the
defining normal
n̂ and ∆S. * It will not be proper to say that the number of field lines is equal to E∆S. The
number of field lines is after all, a matter of how many field lines we choose to
draw. What is physically significant is the relative number of field lines crossing
26 a given area at different points.

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projection of area normal to E, or E⊥ ∆S, i.e., component of E along the
normal to the area element times the magnitude of the area element. The
unit of electric flux is N C–1 m2.
The basic definition of electric flux given by Eq. (1.11) can be used, in
principle, to calculate the total flux through any given surface. All we
have to do is to divide the surface into small area elements, calculate the
flux at each element and add them up. Thus, the total flux φ through a
surface S is
φ ~ Σ E.∆S (1.12)
The approximation sign is put because the electric field E is taken to
be constant over the small area element. This is mathematically exact
only when you take the limit ∆S → 0 and the sum in Eq. (1.12) is written
as an integral.

1.11 ELECTRIC DIPOLE


An electric dipole is a pair of equal and opposite point charges q and –q,
separated by a distance 2a. The line connecting the two charges defines
a direction in space. By convention, the direction from –q to q is said to
be the direction of the dipole. The mid-point of locations of –q and q is
called the centre of the dipole.
The total charge of the electric dipole is obviously zero. This does not
mean that the field of the electric dipole is zero. Since the charge q and
–q are separated by some distance, the electric fields due to them, when
added, do not exactly cancel out. However, at distances much larger than
the separation of the two charges forming a dipole (r >> 2a), the fields
due to q and –q nearly cancel out. The electric field due to a dipole
therefore falls off, at large distance, faster than like 1/r 2 (the dependence
on r of the field due to a single charge q). These qualitative ideas are
borne out by the explicit calculation as follows:

1.11.1 The field of an electric dipole


The electric field of the pair of charges (–q and q) at any point in space
can be found out from Coulomb’s law and the superposition principle.
The results are simple for the following two cases: (i) when the point is on
the dipole axis, and (ii) when it is in the equatorial plane of the dipole,
i.e., on a plane perpendicular to the dipole axis through its centre. The
electric field at any general point P is obtained by adding the electric
fields E–q due to the charge –q and E+q due to the charge q, by the
parallelogram law of vectors.
(i) For points on the axis
Let the point P be at distance r from the centre of the dipole on the side of
the charge q, as shown in Fig. 1.20(a). Then
q
E −q = − p [1.13(a)]
4πε0 (r + a )2
where p̂ is the unit vector along the dipole axis (from –q to q). Also
q
E +q = p [1.13(b)] 27
4 π ε 0 (r − a )2

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The total field at P is
q  1 1 
E = E +q + E − q =  2
− p
4 π ε0  (r − a ) (r + a )2 

q 4a r
= p (1.14)
4 π εo ( r 2 − a 2 )2
For r >> a
4qa
E= ˆ
p (r >> a) (1.15)
4 π ε 0r 3

(ii) For points on the equatorial plane


The magnitudes of the electric fields due to the two
charges +q and –q are given by
q 1
E +q = [1.16(a)]
4 πε 0 r + a 2
2

q 1
E –q = [1.16(b)]
4 πε 0 r + a 2
2

FIGURE 1.20 Electric field of a dipole and are equal.


at (a) a point on the axis, (b) a point The directions of E +q and E –q are as shown in
on the equatorial plane of the dipole. Fig. 1.20(b). Clearly, the components normal to the dipole
p is the dipole moment vector of
axis cancel away. The components along the dipole axis
magnitude p = q × 2a and
directed from –q to q.
add up. The total electric field is opposite to p̂ . We have
E = – (E +q + E –q ) cosθ p̂
2q a
=− p (1.17)
4 π ε o (r 2 + a 2 )3 / 2
At large distances (r >> a), this reduces to
2qa
E=− ˆ
p (r >> a ) (1.18)
4 π εo r 3
From Eqs. (1.15) and (1.18), it is clear that the dipole field at large
distances does not involve q and a separately; it depends on the product
qa. This suggests the definition of dipole moment. The dipole moment
vector p of an electric dipole is defined by
p = q × 2a p̂ (1.19)
that is, it is a vector whose magnitude is charge q times the separation
2a (between the pair of charges q, –q) and the direction is along the line
from –q to q. In terms of p, the electric field of a dipole at large distances
takes simple forms:
At a point on the dipole axis
2p
E= (r >> a) (1.20)
4 πε o r 3
At a point on the equatorial plane
p
E=− (r >> a) (1.21)
28 4πε or 3

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Notice the important point that the dipole field at large distances
falls off not as 1/r 2 but as1/r 3. Further, the magnitude and the direction
of the dipole field depends not only on the distance r but also on the
angle between the position vector r and the dipole moment p.
We can think of the limit when the dipole size 2a approaches zero,
the charge q approaches infinity in such a way that the product
p = q × 2a is finite. Such a dipole is referred to as a point dipole. For a
point dipole, Eqs. (1.20) and (1.21) are exact, true for any r.

1.11.2 Physical significance of dipoles


In most molecules, the centres of positive charges and of negative charges*
lie at the same place. Therefore, their dipole moment is zero. CO2 and
CH4 are of this type of molecules. However, they develop a dipole moment
when an electric field is applied. But in some molecules, the centres of
negative charges and of positive charges do not coincide. Therefore they
have a permanent electric dipole moment, even in the absence of an electric
field. Such molecules are called polar molecules. Water molecules, H2O,
is an example of this type. Various materials give rise to interesting
properties and important applications in the presence or absence of
electric field.

Example 1.10 Two charges ±10 µC are placed 5.0 mm apart.


Determine the electric field at (a) a point P on the axis of the dipole
15 cm away from its centre O on the side of the positive charge, as
shown in Fig. 1.21(a), and (b) a point Q, 15 cm away from O on a line
passing through O and normal to the axis of the dipole, as shown in
Fig. 1.21(b).
EXAMPLE 1.10

FIGURE 1.21

* Centre of a collection of positive point charges is defined much the same way
∑ qi ri
as the centre of mass: rcm = i .
∑ qi
i
29

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Physics
Solution (a) Field at P due to charge +10 µC
10 −5 C 1
= ×
4 π (8.854 × 10 −12 2
C N −1
m ) −2
(15 − 0.25)2 × 10 −4 m 2
6 –1
= 4.13 × 10 N C along BP
Field at P due to charge –10 µC
10 –5 C 1
= × 2
−12 2 −1
4 π (8.854 × 10 C N m ) −2
(15 + 0.25) × 10 −4 m 2
= 3.86 × 106 N C–1 along PA
The resultant electric field at P due to the two charges at A and B is
= 2.7 × 105 N C–1 along BP.
In this example, the ratio OP/OB is quite large (= 60). Thus, we can
expect to get approximately the same result as above by directly using
the formula for electric field at a far-away point on the axis of a dipole.
For a dipole consisting of charges ± q, 2a distance apart, the electric
field at a distance r from the centre on the axis of the dipole has a
magnitude
2p
E = (r/a >> 1)
4 πε 0r 3
where p = 2a q is the magnitude of the dipole moment.
The direction of electric field on the dipole axis is always along the
direction of the dipole moment vector (i.e., from –q to q). Here,
p =10–5 C × 5 × 10–3 m = 5 × 10–8 C m
Therefore,
2 × 5 × 10−8 C m 1
E = −12 2 −1 −2
×
(15) × 10 −6 m 3
3 = 2.6 × 105 N C–1
4 π (8.854 × 10 C N m )
along the dipole moment direction AB, which is close to the result
obtained earlier.
(b) Field at Q due to charge + 10 µC at B
10−5 C 1
= 4 π (8.854 × 10 −12 C 2 N −1 m −2 ) × [152 + (0.25)2 ] × 10 −4 m 2

= 3.99 × 106 N C–1 along BQ

Field at Q due to charge –10 µC at A


10 −5 C 1
= × 2 2
−12
4 π (8.854 × 10 C N m ) 2
[15 −1 −2
+ (0.25) ] × 10 −4 m 2
= 3.99 × 106 N C–1 along QA.

Clearly, the components of these two forces with equal magnitudes


cancel along the direction OQ but add up along the direction parallel
to BA. Therefore, the resultant electric field at Q due to the two
charges at A and B is
0.25
EXAMPLE 1.10

=2× × 3.99 × 106 N C –1 along BA


2 2
15 + (0.25)
= 1.33 × 10 N C–1 along BA.
5

As in (a), we can expect to get approximately the same result by


directly using the formula for dipole field at a point on the normal to
30 the axis of the dipole:

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Electric Charges
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p
E = (r/a >> 1)
4 πε 0 r 3

5 × 10−8 C m 1
= ×

EXAMPLE 1.10
4 π (8.854 ×10−12 C2 N –1 m –2 ) (15)3 × 10 −6 m 3
= 1.33 × 105 N C–1.
The direction of electric field in this case is opposite to the direction
of the dipole moment vector. Again, the result agrees with that obtained
before.

1.12 DIPOLE IN A UNIFORM EXTERNAL FIELD


Consider a permanent dipole of dipole moment p in a uniform
external field E, as shown in Fig. 1.22. (By permanent dipole, we
mean that p exists irrespective of E; it has not been induced by E.)
There is a force qE on q and a force –qE on –q. The net force on
the dipole is zero, since E is uniform. However, the charges are
separated, so the forces act at different points, resulting in a torque
on the dipole. When the net force is zero, the torque (couple) is
independent of the origin. Its magnitude equals the magnitude of FIGURE 1.22 Dipole in a
each force multiplied by the arm of the couple (perpendicular uniform electric field.
distance between the two antiparallel forces).
Magnitude of torque = q E × 2 a sinθ
= 2 q a E sinθ
Its direction is normal to the plane of the paper, coming out of it.
The magnitude of p × E is also p E sinθ and its direction
is normal to the paper, coming out of it. Thus,
τ =p×E (1.22)
This torque will tend to align the dipole with the field
E. When p is aligned with E, the torque is zero.
What happens if the field is not uniform? In that case,
the net force will evidently be non-zero. In addition there
will, in general, be a torque on the system as before. The
general case is involved, so let us consider the simpler
situations when p is parallel to E or antiparallel to E. In
either case, the net torque is zero, but there is a net force
on the dipole if E is not uniform.
Figure 1.23 is self-explanatory. It is easily seen that
when p is parallel to E, the dipole has a net force in the
direction of increasing field. When p is antiparallel to E,
the net force on the dipole is in the direction of decreasing
field. In general, the force depends on the orientation of p
with respect to E.
This brings us to a common observation in frictional
electricity. A comb run through dry hair attracts pieces of FIGURE 1.23 Electric force on a
paper. The comb, as we know, acquires charge through dipole: (a) E parallel to p, (b) E
friction. But the paper is not charged. What then explains antiparallel to p.
the attractive force? Taking the clue from the preceding 31

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discussion, the charged comb ‘polarises’ the piece of paper, i.e., induces
a net dipole moment in the direction of field. Further, the electric field
due to the comb is not uniform. In this situation, it is easily seen that the
paper should move in the direction of the comb!

1.13 CONTINUOUS CHARGE DISTRIBUTION


We have so far dealt with charge configurations involving discrete charges
q1, q2, ..., qn. One reason why we restricted to discrete charges is that the
mathematical treatment is simpler and does not involve calculus. For
many purposes, however, it is impractical to work in terms of discrete
charges and we need to work with continuous charge distributions. For
example, on the surface of a charged conductor, it is impractical to specify
the charge distribution in terms of the locations of the microscopic charged
constituents. It is more feasible to consider an area element ∆S (Fig. 1.24)
on the surface of the conductor (which is very small on the macroscopic
scale but big enough to include a very large number of electrons) and
specify the charge ∆Q on that element. We then define a surface charge
density σ at the area element by
∆Q
σ= (1.23)
∆S
We can do this at different points on the conductor and thus arrive at
a continuous function σ, called the surface charge density. The surface
charge density σ so defined ignores the quantisation of charge and the
discontinuity in charge distribution at the microscopic level*. σ represents
macroscopic surface charge density, which in a sense, is a smoothed out
average of the microscopic charge density over an area element ∆S which,
as said before, is large microscopically but small macroscopically. The
units for σ are C/m2.
Similar considerations apply for a line charge distribution and a volume
FIGURE 1.24 charge distribution. The linear charge density λ of a wire is defined by
Definition of linear,
∆Q
surface and volume λ = (1.24)
charge densities. ∆l
In each case, the where ∆l is a small line element of wire on the macroscopic scale that,
element (∆l, ∆S, ∆V ) however, includes a large number of microscopic charged constituents,
chosen is small on and ∆Q is the charge contained in that line element. The units for λ are
the macroscopic C/m. The volume charge density (sometimes simply called charge density)
scale but contains is defined in a similar manner:
a very large number
of microscopic ∆Q
ρ= (1.25)
constituents. ∆V
where ∆Q is the charge included in the macroscopically small volume
element ∆V that includes a large number of microscopic charged
constituents. The units for ρ are C/m3.
The notion of continuous charge distribution is similar to that we
adopt for continuous mass distribution in mechanics. When we refer to

* At the microscopic level, charge distribution is discontinuous, because they are


32 discrete charges separated by intervening space where there is no charge.

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Electric Charges
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the density of a liquid, we are referring to its macroscopic density. We
regard it as a continuous fluid and ignore its discrete molecular
constitution.
The field due to a continuous charge distribution can be obtained in
much the same way as for a system of discrete charges, Eq. (1.10). Suppose
a continuous charge distribution in space has a charge density ρ. Choose
any convenient origin O and let the position vector of any point in the
charge distribution be r. The charge density ρ may vary from point to
point, i.e., it is a function of r. Divide the charge distribution into small
volume elements of size ∆V. The charge in a volume element ∆V is ρ∆V.
Now, consider any general point P (inside or outside the distribution)
with position vector R (Fig. 1.24). Electric field due to the charge ρ∆V is
given by Coulomb’s law:
1 ρ ∆V
∆E = rˆ' (1.26)
4πε 0 r' 2
where r′ is the distance between the charge element and P, and r̂ ′ is a
unit vector in the direction from the charge element to P. By the
superposition principle, the total electric field due to the charge
distribution is obtained by summing over electric fields due to different
volume elements:
1 ρ ∆V
E≅ Σ rˆ' (1.27)
4 πε 0 all ∆V r' 2
Note that ρ, r′, rˆ ′ all can vary from point to point. In a strict
mathematical method, we should let ∆V→0 and the sum then becomes
an integral; but we omit that discussion here, for simplicity. In short,
using Coulomb’s law and the superposition principle, electric field can
be determined for any charge distribution, discrete or continuous or part
discrete and part continuous.

1.14 GAUSS’S LAW


As a simple application of the notion of electric flux, let us consider the
total flux through a sphere of radius r, which encloses a point charge q
at its centre. Divide the sphere into small area elements, as shown in
Fig. 1.25.
The flux through an area element ∆S is
q
∆φ = E i ∆ S = rˆ i ∆S (1.28)
4 πε 0 r 2
where we have used Coulomb’s law for the electric field due to a single
charge q. The unit vector r̂ is along the radius vector from the centre to
the area element. Now, since the normal to a sphere at every point is
along the radius vector at that point, the area element ∆S and r̂ have
the same direction. Therefore,
q FIGURE 1.25 Flux
∆φ = ∆S (1.29) through a sphere
4 πε 0 r 2 enclosing a point
since the magnitude of a unit vector is 1. charge q at its centre.
The total flux through the sphere is obtained by adding up flux
through all the different area elements: 33

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q
φ= Σ ∆S
all ∆S 4 π ε0 r 2
Since each area element of the sphere is at the same
distance r from the charge,
FIGURE 1.26 Calculation of the q q
flux of uniform electric field
φ= Σ ∆S =
2 all ∆S
S
4 πεo r 4 πε 0 r 2
through the surface of a cylinder.
Now S, the total area of the sphere, equals 4πr 2. Thus,
q q
φ= 2
× 4 πr 2 = (1.30)
4 πε 0 r ε0
Equation (1.30) is a simple illustration of a general result of
electrostatics called Gauss’s law.
We state Gauss’s law without proof:
Electric flux through a closed surface S
= q/ε0 (1.31)
q = total charge enclosed by S.
The law implies that the total electric flux through a closed surface is
zero if no charge is enclosed by the surface. We can see that explicitly in
the simple situation of Fig. 1.26.
Here the electric field is uniform and we are considering a closed
cylindrical surface, with its axis parallel to the uniform field E. The total
flux φ through the surface is φ = φ1 + φ2 + φ3, where φ1 and φ2 represent
the flux through the surfaces 1 and 2 (of circular cross-section) of the
cylinder and φ3 is the flux through the curved cylindrical part of the
closed surface. Now the normal to the surface 3 at every point is
perpendicular to E, so by definition of flux, φ3 = 0. Further, the outward
normal to 2 is along E while the outward normal to 1 is opposite to E.
Therefore,
φ1 = –E S1, φ2 = +E S2
S1 = S2 = S
where S is the area of circular cross-section. Thus, the total flux is zero,
as expected by Gauss’s law. Thus, whenever you find that the net electric
flux through a closed surface is zero, we conclude that the total charge
contained in the closed surface is zero.
The great significance of Gauss’s law Eq. (1.31), is that it is true in
general, and not only for the simple cases we have considered above. Let
us note some important points regarding this law:
(i) Gauss’s law is true for any closed surface, no matter what its shape
or size.
(ii) The term q on the right side of Gauss’s law, Eq. (1.31), includes the
sum of all charges enclosed by the surface. The charges may be located
anywhere inside the surface.
(iii) In the situation when the surface is so chosen that there are some
charges inside and some outside, the electric field [whose flux appears
on the left side of Eq. (1.31)] is due to all the charges, both inside and
outside S. The term q on the right side of Gauss’s law, however,
34 represents only the total charge inside S.

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Electric Charges
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(iv) The surface that we choose for the application of Gauss’s law is called
the Gaussian surface. You may choose any Gaussian surface and
apply Gauss’s law. However, take care not to let the Gaussian surface
pass through any discrete charge. This is because electric field due
to a system of discrete charges is not well defined at the location of
any charge. (As you go close to the charge, the field grows without
any bound.) However, the Gaussian surface can pass through a
continuous charge distribution.
(v) Gauss’s law is often useful towards a much easier calculation of the
electrostatic field when the system has some symmetry. This is
facilitated by the choice of a suitable Gaussian surface.
(vi) Finally, Gauss’s law is based on the inverse square dependence on
distance contained in the Coulomb’s law. Any violation of Gauss’s
law will indicate departure from the inverse square law.

Example 1.11 The electric field components in Fig. 1.27 are


Ex = αx1/2, Ey = Ez = 0, in which α = 800 N/C m1/2. Calculate (a) the
flux through the cube, and (b) the charge within the cube. Assume
that a = 0.1 m.

FIGURE 1.27
Solution
(a) Since the electric field has only an x component, for faces
perpendicular to x direction, the angle between E and ∆S is
± π/2. Therefore, the flux φ = E.∆S is separately zero for each face
of the cube except the two shaded ones. Now the magnitude of
the electric field at the left face is
EL = αx1/2 = αa1/2
(x = a at the left face).
The magnitude of electric field at the right face is
ER = α x1/2 = α (2a)1/2
(x = 2a at the right face).
The corresponding fluxes are
EXAMPLE 1.11

φ = E .∆S = ∆S E L ⋅ n
L L
ˆ L =E ∆S cosθ = –E ∆S, since θ = 180°
L L

= –ELa2
φR= ER.∆S = ER ∆S cosθ = ER ∆S, since θ = 0°
= ERa2
Net flux through the cube 35

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Physics
= φR + φL = ERa2 – ELa2 = a2 (ER – EL) = αa2 [(2a)1/2 – a1/2]
= αa5/2 ( 2 –1)
EXAMPLE 1.11 = 800 (0.1)5/2 ( 2 –1)
2 –1
= 1.05 N m C
(b) We can use Gauss’s law to find the total charge q inside the cube.
We have φ = q/ε0 or q = φε0. Therefore,
q = 1.05 × 8.854 × 10–12 C = 9.27 × 10–12 C.

Example 1.12 An electric field is uniform, and in the positive x


direction for positive x, and uniform with the same magnitude but in
the negative x direction for negative x. It is given that E = 200 î N/C
for x > 0 and E = –200 î N/C for x < 0. A right circular cylinder of
length 20 cm and radius 5 cm has its centre at the origin and its axis
along the x-axis so that one face is at x = +10 cm and the other is at
x = –10 cm (Fig. 1.28). (a) What is the net outward flux through each
flat face? (b) What is the flux through the side of the cylinder?
(c) What is the net outward flux through the cylinder? (d) What is the
net charge inside the cylinder?
Solution
(a) We can see from the figure that on the left face E and ∆S are
parallel. Therefore, the outward flux is
φ = E.∆S = – 200 ˆii ∆S
L

= + 200 ∆S, since ˆii ∆S = – ∆S


= + 200 × π (0.05)2 = + 1.57 N m2 C–1
On the right face, E and ∆S are parallel and therefore
φR = E.∆S = + 1.57 N m2 C–1.
(b) For any point on the side of the cylinder E is perpendicular to
∆S and hence E.∆S = 0. Therefore, the flux out of the side of the
cylinder is zero.
(c) Net outward flux through the cylinder
φ = 1.57 + 1.57 + 0 = 3.14 N m2 C–1

FIGURE 1.28
EXAMPLE 1.12

(d) The net charge within the cylinder can be found by using Gauss’s
law which gives
q = ε0φ
= 3.14 × 8.854 × 10–12 C
= 2.78 × 10–11 C
36

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and Fields

1.15 APPLICATIONS OF GAUSS’S LAW


The electric field due to a general charge distribution is, as seen above,
given by Eq. (1.27). In practice, except for some special cases, the
summation (or integration) involved in this equation cannot be carried
out to give electric field at every point in
space. For some symmetric charge
configurations, however, it is possible to
obtain the electric field in a simple way using
the Gauss’s law. This is best understood by
some examples.

1.15.1 Field due to an infinitely


long straight uniformly
charged wire
Consider an infinitely long thin straight wire
with uniform linear charge density λ. The wire
is obviously an axis of symmetry. Suppose we
take the radial vector from O to P and rotate it
around the wire. The points P, P′, P′′ so
obtained are completely equivalent with
respect to the charged wire. This implies that
the electric field must have the same magnitude
at these points. The direction of electric field at
every point must be radial (outward if λ > 0,
inward if λ < 0). This is clear from Fig. 1.29.
Consider a pair of line elements P1 and P2
of the wire, as shown. The electric fields
produced by the two elements of the pair when
summed give a resultant electric field which
is radial (the components normal to the radial
vector cancel). This is true for any such pair
and hence the total field at any point P is
radial. Finally, since the wire is infinite,
electric field does not depend on the position
of P along the length of the wire. In short, the
electric field is everywhere radial in the plane
cutting the wire normally, and its magnitude
depends only on the radial distance r.
To calculate the field, imagine a cylindrical
Gaussian surface, as shown in the Fig. 1.29(b).
Since the field is everywhere radial, flux
through the two ends of the cylindrical
Gaussian surface is zero. At the cylindrical
FIGURE 1.29 (a) Electric field due to an
part of the surface, E is normal to the surface infinitely long thin straight wire is radial,
at every point, and its magnitude is constant, (b) The Gaussian surface for a long thin
since it depends only on r. The surface area wire of uniform linear charge density.
of the curved part is 2πrl, where l is the length
of the cylinder. 37

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Flux through the Gaussian surface
= flux through the curved cylindrical part of the surface
= E × 2πrl
The surface includes charge equal to λ l. Gauss’s law then gives
E × 2πrl = λl/ε0
λ
i.e., E =
2πε 0r
Vectorially, E at any point is given by
λ
E= ˆ
n (1.32)
2πε0r
where n̂ is the radial unit vector in the plane normal to the wire passing
through the point. E is directed outward if λ is positive and inward if λ is
negative.
Note that when we write a vector A as a scalar multiplied by a unit
vector, i.e., as A = A â , the scalar A is an algebraic number. It can be
negative or positive. The direction of A will be the same as that of the unit
vector â if A > 0 and opposite to â if A < 0. When we want to restrict to
non-negative values, we use the symbol A and call it the modulus of A .
Thus, A ≥ 0 .
Also note that though only the charge enclosed by the surface (λl )
was included above, the electric field E is due to the charge on the entire
wire. Further, the assumption that the wire is infinitely long is crucial.
Without this assumption, we cannot take E to be normal to the curved
part of the cylindrical Gaussian surface. However, Eq. (1.32) is
approximately true for electric field around the central portions of a long
wire, where the end effects may be ignored.

1.15.2 Field due to a uniformly charged infinite plane sheet


Let σ be the uniform surface charge density of an infinite plane sheet
(Fig. 1.30). We take the x-axis normal to the given plane. By symmetry,
the electric field will not depend on y and z coordinates and its direction
at every point must be parallel to the x-direction.
We can take the Gaussian surface to be a
rectangular parallelepiped of cross-sectional area
A, as shown. (A cylindrical surface will also do.) As
seen from the figure, only the two faces 1 and 2 will
contribute to the flux; electric field lines are parallel
to the other faces and they, therefore, do not
contribute to the total flux.
The unit vector normal to surface 1 is in –x
direction while the unit vector normal to surface 2
is in the +x direction. Therefore, flux E.∆S through
both the surfaces are equal and add up. Therefore
FIGURE 1.30 Gaussian surface for a the net flux through the Gaussian surface is 2 EA.
uniformly charged infinite plane sheet.
The charge enclosed by the closed surface is σA.
38 Therefore by Gauss’s law,

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Electric Charges
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2 EA = σA/ε0
or, E = σ/2ε0
Vectorically,
σ
E= ˆ
n (1.33)
2ε 0
where n̂ is a unit vector normal to the plane and going away from it.
E is directed away from the plate if σ is positive and toward the plate
if σ is negative. Note that the above application of the Gauss’ law has
brought out an additional fact: E is independent of x also.
For a finite large planar sheet, Eq. (1.33) is approximately true in the
middle regions of the planar sheet, away from the ends.

1.15.3 Field due to a uniformly charged thin spherical shell


Let σ be the uniform surface charge density of a thin spherical shell of
radius R (Fig. 1.31). The situation has obvious spherical symmetry. The
field at any point P, outside or inside, can depend only on r (the radial
distance from the centre of the shell to the point) and must be radial (i.e.,
along the radius vector).
(i) Field outside the shell: Consider a point P outside the
shell with radius vector r. To calculate E at P, we take the
Gaussian surface to be a sphere of radius r and with centre
O, passing through P. All points on this sphere are equivalent
relative to the given charged configuration. (That is what we
mean by spherical symmetry.) The electric field at each point
of the Gaussian surface, therefore, has the same magnitude
E and is along the radius vector at each point. Thus, E and
∆S at every point are parallel and the flux through each
element is E ∆S. Summing over all ∆S, the flux through the
Gaussian surface is E × 4 π r 2. The charge enclosed is
σ × 4 π R 2. By Gauss’s law
σ
E × 4 π r2 = 4 π R2
ε0

σ R2 q
Or, E = 2
=
ε0 r 4 π ε0 r 2
where q = 4 π R2 σ is the total charge on the spherical shell.
Vectorially,
q FIGURE 1.31 Gaussian
E= rˆ (1.34)
4 πε 0 r 2 surfaces for a point with
(a) r > R, (b) r < R.
The electric field is directed outward if q > 0 and inward if
q < 0. This, however, is exactly the field produced by a charge
q placed at the centre O. Thus for points outside the shell, the field due
to a uniformly charged shell is as if the entire charge of the shell is
concentrated at its centre.
(ii) Field inside the shell: In Fig. 1.31(b), the point P is inside the
shell. The Gaussian surface is again a sphere through P centred at O. 39

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The flux through the Gaussian surface, calculated as before, is
E × 4 π r 2. However, in this case, the Gaussian surface encloses no
charge. Gauss’s law then gives
E × 4 π r2 = 0
i.e., E = 0 (r < R ) (1.35)
that is, the field due to a uniformly charged thin shell is zero at all points
inside the shell*. This important result is a direct consequence of Gauss’s
law which follows from Coulomb’s law. The experimental verification of
this result confirms the 1/r2 dependence in Coulomb’s law.

Example 1.13 An early model for an atom considered it to have a


positively charged point nucleus of charge Ze, surrounded by a
uniform density of negative charge up to a radius R. The atom as a
whole is neutral. For this model, what is the electric field at a distance
r from the nucleus?

FIGURE 1.32

Solution The charge distribution for this model of the atom is as


shown in Fig. 1.32. The total negative charge in the uniform spherical
charge distribution of radius R must be –Z e, since the atom (nucleus
of charge Z e + negative charge) is neutral. This immediately gives us
the negative charge density ρ, since we must have
4 πR3
ρ = 0 – Ze
3
3 Ze
or ρ = −
4 π R3
To find the electric field E(r) at a point P which is a distance r away
from the nucleus, we use Gauss’s law. Because of the spherical
symmetry of the charge distribution, the magnitude of the electric
field E(r) depends only on the radial distance, no matter what the
direction of r. Its direction is along (or opposite to) the radius vector r
from the origin to the point P. The obvious Gaussian surface is a
EXAMPLE 1.13

spherical surface centred at the nucleus. We consider two situations,


namely, r < R and r > R.
(i) r < R : The electric flux φ enclosed by the spherical surface is
φ = E (r ) × 4 π r 2
where E (r ) is the magnitude of the electric field at r. This is because

* Compare this with a uniform mass shell discussed in Section 8.5 of Class XI
40 Textbook of Physics.

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the field at any point on the spherical Gaussian surface has the
same direction as the normal to the surface there, and has the same
magnitude at all points on the surface.
The charge q enclosed by the Gaussian surface is the positive nuclear
charge and the negative charge within the sphere of radius r,
4 πr3
i.e., q = Z e + ρ
3
Substituting for the charge density ρ obtained earlier, we have
r3
q = Ze−Ze
R3
Gauss’s law then gives,
Z e 1 r
E (r ) = 2
− 3 ; r < R
4 π ε0 r R
The electric field is directed radially outward.
(ii) r > R: In this case, the total charge enclosed by the Gaussian

EXAMPLE 1.13
spherical surface is zero since the atom is neutral. Thus, from Gauss’s
law,
E (r ) × 4 π r 2 = 0 or E (r ) = 0; r > R
At r = R, both cases give the same result: E = 0.

ON SYMMETRY OPERATIONS

In Physics, we often encounter systems with various symmetries. Consideration of these


symmetries helps one arrive at results much faster than otherwise by a straightforward
calculation. Consider, for example an infinite uniform sheet of charge (surface charge
density σ) along the y-z plane. This system is unchanged if (a) translated parallel to the
y-z plane in any direction, (b) rotated about the x-axis through any angle. As the system
is unchanged under such symmetry operation, so must its properties be. In particular,
in this example, the electric field E must be unchanged.
Translation symmetry along the y-axis shows that the electric field must be the same
at a point (0, y1, 0) as at (0, y2, 0). Similarly translational symmetry along the z-axis
shows that the electric field at two point (0, 0, z1) and (0, 0, z2) must be the same. By
using rotation symmetry around the x-axis, we can conclude that E must be
perpendicular to the y-z plane, that is, it must be parallel to the x-direction.
Try to think of a symmetry now which will tell you that the magnitude of the electric
field is a constant, independent of the x-coordinate. It thus turns out that the magnitude
of the electric field due to a uniformly charged infinite conducting sheet is the same at all
points in space. The direction, however, is opposite of each other on either side of
the sheet.
Compare this with the effort needed to arrive at this result by a direct calculation
using Coulomb’s law.

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SUMMARY

1. Electric and magnetic forces determine the properties of atoms,


molecules and bulk matter.
2. From simple experiments on frictional electricity, one can infer that
there are two types of charges in nature; and that like charges repel
and unlike charges attract. By convention, the charge on a glass rod
rubbed with silk is positive; that on a plastic rod rubbed with fur is
then negative.
3. Conductors allow movement of electric charge through them, insulators
do not. In metals, the mobile charges are electrons; in electrolytes
both positive and negative ions are mobile.
4. Electric charge has three basic properties: quantisation, additivity
and conservation.
Quantisation of electric charge means that total charge (q) of a body
is always an integral multiple of a basic quantum of charge (e) i.e.,
q = n e, where n = 0, ±1, ±2, ±3, .... Proton and electron have charges
+e, –e, respectively. For macroscopic charges for which n is a very large
number, quantisation of charge can be ignored.
Additivity of electric charges means that the total charge of a system
is the algebraic sum (i.e., the sum taking into account proper signs)
of all individual charges in the system.
Conservation of electric charges means that the total charge of an
isolated system remains unchanged with time. This means that when
bodies are charged through friction, there is a transfer of electric charge
from one body to another, but no creation or destruction of charge.
5. Coulomb’s Law: The mutual electrostatic force between two point
charges q1 and q2 is proportional to the product q1q2 and inversely
proportional to the square of the distance r 21 separating them.
Mathematically,
k (q1q2 )
F21 = force on q2 due to q1 = 2
rˆ21
r21
1
where r̂21 is a unit vector in the direction from q1 to q2 and k =
4 πε 0
is the constant of proportionality.
In SI units, the unit of charge is coulomb. The experimental value of
the constant ε0 is
ε0 = 8.854 × 10–12 C2 N–1 m–2
The approximate value of k is
k = 9 × 109 N m2 C–2
6. The ratio of electric force and gravitational force between a proton
and an electron is

k e2
≅ 2.4 × 1039
G m em p
7. Superposition Principle: The principle is based on the property that the
forces with which two charges attract or repel each other are not
affected by the presence of a third (or more) additional charge(s). For
an assembly of charges q1, q2, q3, ..., the force on any charge, say q1, is
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the vector sum of the force on q1 due to q2, the force on q1 due to q3,
and so on. For each pair, the force is given by the Coulomb’s law for
two charges stated earlier.
8. The electric field E at a point due to a charge configuration is the
force on a small positive test charge q placed at the point divided by
the magnitude of the charge. Electric field due to a point charge q has
a magnitude |q|/4πε0r 2; it is radially outwards from q, if q is positive,
and radially inwards if q is negative. Like Coulomb force, electric field
also satisfies superposition principle.
9. An electric field line is a curve drawn in such a way that the tangent
at each point on the curve gives the direction of electric field at that
point. The relative closeness of field lines indicates the relative strength
of electric field at different points; they crowd near each other in regions
of strong electric field and are far apart where the electric field is
weak. In regions of constant electric field, the field lines are uniformly
spaced parallel straight lines.
10. Some of the important properties of field lines are: (i) Field lines are
continuous curves without any breaks. (ii) Two field lines cannot cross
each other. (iii) Electrostatic field lines start at positive charges and
end at negative charges —they cannot form closed loops.
11. An electric dipole is a pair of equal and opposite charges q and –q
separated by some distance 2a. Its dipole moment vector p has
magnitude 2qa and is in the direction of the dipole axis from –q to q.
12. Field of an electric dipole in its equatorial plane (i.e., the plane
perpendicular to its axis and passing through its centre) at a distance
r from the centre:

−p 1
E=
4 πε o (a + r 2 )3 / 2
2

−p
≅ , for r >> a
4 πε o r 3
Dipole electric field on the axis at a distance r from the centre:

2 pr
E =
4 πε 0 (r 2 − a 2 )2

2p
≅ for r >> a
4 πε 0r 3
The 1/r 3 dependence of dipole electric fields should be noted in contrast
to the 1/r 2 dependence of electric field due to a point charge.
13. In a uniform electric field E, a dipole experiences a torque τ given by
τ =p×E
but experiences no net force.
14. The flux ∆φ of electric field E through a small area element ∆S is
given by
∆φ = E.∆S
The vector area element ∆S is
∆S = ∆S n̂

where ∆S is the magnitude of the area element and n̂ is normal to the


area element, which can be considered planar for sufficiently small ∆S. 43

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For an area element of a closed surface, n̂ is taken to be the direction


of outward normal, by convention.
15. Gauss’s law: The flux of electric field through any closed surface S is
1/ε0 times the total charge enclosed by S. The law is especially useful
in determining electric field E, when the source distribution has simple
symmetry:
(i) Thin infinitely long straight wire of uniform linear charge density λ
λ
E= ˆ
n
2 πε 0 r
where r is the perpendicular distance of the point from the wire and
n̂ is the radial unit vector in the plane normal to the wire passing
through the point.
(ii) Infinite thin plane sheet of uniform surface charge density σ
σ
E= ˆ
n
2 ε0

where n̂ is a unit vector normal to the plane, outward on either side.


(iii) Thin spherical shell of uniform surface charge density σ
q
E= rˆ (r ≥ R )
4 πε 0 r 2
E=0 (r < R )
where r is the distance of the point from the centre of the shell and R
the radius of the shell. q is the total charge of the shell: q = 4πR2σ.
The electric field outside the shell is as though the total charge is
concentrated at the centre. The same result is true for a solid sphere
of uniform volume charge density. The field is zero at all points inside
the shell.

Physical quantity Symbol Dimensions Unit Remarks

Vector area element ∆S [L2] m2 ∆S = ∆S n̂

Electric field E [MLT–3A–1] V m–1

Electric flux φ [ML3 T–3A–1] Vm ∆φ = E.∆S

Dipole moment p [LTA] Cm Vector directed


from negative to
positive charge

Charge density:

linear λ [L–1 TA] C m–1 Charge/length

surface σ [L–2 TA] C m–2 Charge/area

volume ρ [L–3 TA] C m–3 Charge/volume


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POINTS TO PONDER

1. You might wonder why the protons, all carrying positive charges, are
compactly residing inside the nucleus. Why do they not fly away? You
will learn that there is a third kind of a fundamental force, called the
strong force which holds them together. The range of distance where
this force is effective is, however, very small ~10-14 m. This is precisely
the size of the nucleus. Also the electrons are not allowed to sit on
top of the protons, i.e. inside the nucleus, due to the laws of quantum
mechanics. This gives the atoms their structure as they exist in nature.
2. Coulomb force and gravitational force follow the same inverse-square
law. But gravitational force has only one sign (always attractive), while
Coulomb force can be of both signs (attractive and repulsive), allowing
possibility of cancellation of electric forces. This is how gravity, despite
being a much weaker force, can be a dominating and more pervasive
force in nature.
3. The constant of proportionality k in Coulomb’s law is a matter of
choice if the unit of charge is to be defined using Coulomb’s law. In SI
units, however, what is defined is the unit of current (A) via its magnetic
effect (Ampere’s law) and the unit of charge (coulomb) is simply defined
by (1C = 1 A s). In this case, the value of k is no longer arbitrary; it is
approximately 9 × 109 N m2 C–2.
4. The rather large value of k, i.e., the large size of the unit of charge
(1C) from the point of view of electric effects arises because (as
mentioned in point 3 already) the unit of charge is defined in terms of
magnetic forces (forces on current–carrying wires) which are generally
much weaker than the electric forces. Thus while 1 ampere is a unit
of reasonable size for magnetic effects, 1 C = 1 A s, is too big a unit for
electric effects.
5. The additive property of charge is not an ‘obvious’ property. It is related
to the fact that electric charge has no direction associated with it;
charge is a scalar.
6. Charge is not only a scalar (or invariant) under rotation; it is also
invariant for frames of reference in relative motion. This is not always
true for every scalar. For example, kinetic energy is a scalar under
rotation, but is not invariant for frames of reference in relative
motion.
7. Conservation of total charge of an isolated system is a property
independent of the scalar nature of charge noted in point 6.
Conservation refers to invariance in time in a given frame of reference.
A quantity may be scalar but not conserved (like kinetic energy in an
inelastic collision). On the other hand, one can have conserved vector
quantity (e.g., angular momentum of an isolated system).
8. Quantisation of electric charge is a basic (unexplained) law of nature;
interestingly, there is no analogous law on quantisation of mass.
9. Superposition principle should not be regarded as ‘obvious’, or equated
with the law of addition of vectors. It says two things: force on one
charge due to another charge is unaffected by the presence of other
charges, and there are no additional three-body, four-body, etc., forces
which arise only when there are more than two charges.
10. The electric field due to a discrete charge configuration is not defined
at the locations of the discrete charges. For continuous volume charge
distribution, it is defined at any point in the distribution. For a surface
charge distribution, electric field is discontinuous across the surface. 45

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11. The electric field due to a charge configuration with total charge zero
is not zero; but for distances large compared to the size of
the configuration, its field falls off faster than 1/r 2, typical of field
due to a single charge. An electric dipole is the simplest example of
this fact.

EXERCISES
1.1 What is the force between two small charged spheres having
charges of 2 × 10–7C and 3 × 10–7C placed 30 cm apart in air?
1.2 The electrostatic force on a small sphere of charge 0.4 µC due to
another small sphere of charge – 0.8 µC in air is 0.2 N. (a) What is
the distance between the two spheres? (b) What is the force on the
second sphere due to the first?
1.3 Check that the ratio ke2/G memp is dimensionless. Look up a Table
of Physical Constants and determine the value of this ratio. What
does the ratio signify?
1.4 (a) Explain the meaning of the statement ‘electric charge of a body
is quantised’.
(b) Why can one ignore quantisation of electric charge when dealing
with macroscopic i.e., large scale charges?
1.5 When a glass rod is rubbed with a silk cloth, charges appear on
both. A similar phenomenon is observed with many other pairs of
bodies. Explain how this observation is consistent with the law of
conservation of charge.
1.6 Four point charges qA = 2 µC, qB = –5 µC, qC = 2 µC, and qD = –5 µC are
located at the corners of a square ABCD of side 10 cm. What is the
force on a charge of 1 µC placed at the centre of the square?
1.7 (a) An electrostatic field line is a continuous curve. That is, a field
line cannot have sudden breaks. Why not?
(b) Explain why two field lines never cross each other at any point?
1.8 Two point charges qA = 3 µC and qB = –3 µC are located 20 cm apart
in vacuum.
(a) What is the electric field at the midpoint O of the line AB joining
the two charges?
(b) If a negative test charge of magnitude 1.5 × 10–9 C is placed at
this point, what is the force experienced by the test charge?
1.9 A system has two charges qA = 2.5 × 10–7 C and qB = –2.5 × 10–7 C
located at points A: (0, 0, –15 cm) and B: (0,0, +15 cm), respectively.
What are the total charge and electric dipole moment of the system?
1.10 An electric dipole with dipole moment 4 × 10–9 C m is aligned at 30°
with the direction of a uniform electric field of magnitude 5 × 104 NC–1.
Calculate the magnitude of the torque acting on the dipole.
1.11 A polythene piece rubbed with wool is found to have a negative
charge of 3 × 10–7 C.
(a) Estimate the number of electrons transferred (from which to
which?)
(b) Is there a transfer of mass from wool to polythene?
1.12 (a) Two insulated charged copper spheres A and B have their centres
46 separated by a distance of 50 cm. What is the mutual force of

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Electric Charges
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electrostatic repulsion if the charge on each is 6.5 × 10–7 C? The
radii of A and B are negligible compared to the distance of
separation.
(b) What is the force of repulsion if each sphere is charged double
the above amount, and the distance between them is halved?
1.13 Suppose the spheres A and B in Exercise 1.12 have identical sizes.
A third sphere of the same size but uncharged is brought in contact
with the first, then brought in contact with the second, and finally
removed from both. What is the new force of repulsion between A
and B?
1.14 Figure 1.33 shows tracks of three charged particles in a uniform
electrostatic field. Give the signs of the three charges. Which particle
has the highest charge to mass ratio?

FIGURE 1.33

1.15 Consider a uniform electric field E = 3 × 103 î N/C. (a) What is the
flux of this field through a square of 10 cm on a side whose plane is
parallel to the yz plane? (b) What is the flux through the same
square if the normal to its plane makes a 60° angle with the x-axis?
1.16 What is the net flux of the uniform electric field of Exercise 1.15
through a cube of side 20 cm oriented so that its faces are parallel
to the coordinate planes?
1.17 Careful measurement of the electric field at the surface of a black
box indicates that the net outward flux through the surface of the
box is 8.0 × 103 Nm2/C. (a) What is the net charge inside the box?
(b) If the net outward flux through the surface of the box were zero,
could you conclude that there were no charges inside the box? Why
or Why not?
1.18 A point charge +10 µC is a distance 5 cm directly above the centre
of a square of side 10 cm, as shown in Fig. 1.34. What is the
magnitude of the electric flux through the square? (Hint: Think of
the square as one face of a cube with edge 10 cm.)

FIGURE 1.34 47

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1.19 A point charge of 2.0 µC is at the centre of a cubic Gaussian
surface 9.0 cm on edge. What is the net electric flux through the
surface?
1.20 A point charge causes an electric flux of –1.0 × 103 Nm2/C to pass
through a spherical Gaussian surface of 10.0 cm radius centred on
the charge. (a) If the radius of the Gaussian surface were doubled,
how much flux would pass through the surface? (b) What is the
value of the point charge?
1.21 A conducting sphere of radius 10 cm has an unknown charge. If
the electric field 20 cm from the centre of the sphere is 1.5 × 103 N/C
and points radially inward, what is the net charge on the sphere?
1.22 A uniformly charged conducting sphere of 2.4 m diameter has a
surface charge density of 80.0 µC/m2. (a) Find the charge on the
sphere. (b) What is the total electric flux leaving the surface of the
sphere?
1.23 An infinite line charge produces a field of 9 × 104 N/C at a distance
of 2 cm. Calculate the linear charge density.
1.24 Two large, thin metal plates are parallel and close to each other. On
their inner faces, the plates have surface charge densities of opposite
signs and of magnitude 17.0 × 10–22 C/m2. What is E: (a) in the outer
region of the first plate, (b) in the outer region of the second plate,
and (c) between the plates?

ADDITIONAL EXERCISES
1.25 An oil drop of 12 excess electrons is held stationary under a constant
electric field of 2.55 × 104 NC–1 (Millikan’s oil drop experiment). The
density of the oil is 1.26 g cm–3. Estimate the radius of the drop.
(g = 9.81 m s–2; e = 1.60 × 10–19 C).
1.26 Which among the curves shown in Fig. 1.35 cannot possibly
represent electrostatic field lines?

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FIGURE 1.35
1.27 In a certain region of space, electric field is along the z-direction
throughout. The magnitude of electric field is, however, not constant
but increases uniformly along the positive z-direction, at the rate of
105 NC–1 per metre. What are the force and torque experienced by a
system having a total dipole moment equal to 10–7 Cm in the negative
z-direction ?
1.28 (a) A conductor A with a cavity as shown in Fig. 1.36(a) is given a
charge Q. Show that the entire charge must appear on the outer
surface of the conductor. (b) Another conductor B with charge q is
inserted into the cavity keeping B insulated from A. Show that the
total charge on the outside surface of A is Q + q [Fig. 1.36(b)]. (c) A
sensitive instrument is to be shielded from the strong electrostatic
fields in its environment. Suggest a possible way.

FIGURE 1.36

1.29 A hollow charged conductor has a tiny hole cut into its surface.
Show that the electric field in the hole is (σ/2ε0) n̂ , where n̂ is the
unit vector in the outward normal direction, and σ is the surface
charge density near the hole.
1.30 Obtain the formula for the electric field due to a long thin wire of
uniform linear charge density E without using Gauss’s law. [Hint:
Use Coulomb’s law directly and evaluate the necessary integral.]
1.31 It is now believed that protons and neutrons (which constitute nuclei
of ordinary matter) are themselves built out of more elementary units
called quarks. A proton and a neutron consist of three quarks each.
Two types of quarks, the so called ‘up’ quark (denoted by u) of charge
+ (2/3) e, and the ‘down’ quark (denoted by d) of charge (–1/3) e,
together with electrons build up ordinary matter. (Quarks of other
types have also been found which give rise to different unusual
varieties of matter.) Suggest a possible quark composition of a
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1.32 (a) Consider an arbitrary electrostatic field configuration. A small
test charge is placed at a null point (i.e., where E = 0) of the
configuration. Show that the equilibrium of the test charge is
necessarily unstable.
(b) Verify this result for the simple configuration of two charges of
the same magnitude and sign placed a certain distance apart.
1.33 A particle of mass m and charge (–q) enters the region between the
two charged plates initially moving along x-axis with speed vx (like
particle 1 in Fig. 1.33). The length of plate is L and an uniform
electric field E is maintained between the plates. Show that the
vertical deflection of the particle at the far edge of the plate is
qEL2/(2m vx2).
Compare this motion with motion of a projectile in gravitational field
discussed in Section 4.10 of Class XI Textbook of Physics.
1.34 Suppose that the particle in Exercise in 1.33 is an electron projected
with velocity vx = 2.0 × 106 m s–1. If E between the plates separated
by 0.5 cm is 9.1 × 102 N/C, where will the electron strike the upper
plate? (|e|=1.6 × 10–19 C, me = 9.1 × 10–31 kg.)

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Chapter Two

ELECTROSTATIC
POTENTIAL AND
CAPACITANCE

2.1 INTRODUCTION
In Chapters 6 and 8 (Class XI), the notion of potential energy was
introduced. When an external force does work in taking a body from a
point to another against a force like spring force or gravitational force,
that work gets stored as potential energy of the body. When the external
force is removed, the body moves, gaining kinetic energy and losing
an equal amount of potential energy. The sum of kinetic and
potential energies is thus conserved. Forces of this kind are called
conservative forces. Spring force and gravitational force are examples of
conservative forces.
Coulomb force between two (stationary) charges is also a conservative
force. This is not surprising, since both have inverse-square dependence
on distance and differ mainly in the proportionality constants – the
masses in the gravitational law are replaced by charges in Coulomb’s
law. Thus, like the potential energy of a mass in a gravitational
field, we can define electrostatic potential energy of a charge in an
electrostatic field.
Consider an electrostatic field E due to some charge configuration.
First, for simplicity, consider the field E due to a charge Q placed at the
origin. Now, imagine that we bring a test charge q from a point R to a
point P against the repulsive force on it due to the charge Q. With reference

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to Fig. 2.1, this will happen if Q and q are both positive
or both negative. For definiteness, let us take Q, q > 0.
Two remarks may be made here. First, we assume
that the test charge q is so small that it does not disturb
the original configuration, namely the charge Q at the
origin (or else, we keep Q fixed at the origin by some
FIGURE 2.1 A test charge q (> 0) is unspecified force). Second, in bringing the charge q from
moved from the point R to the R to P, we apply an external force Fext just enough to
point P against the repulsive counter the repulsive electric force FE (i.e, Fext= –FE).
force on it by the charge Q (> 0) This means there is no net force on or acceleration of
placed at the origin. the charge q when it is brought from R to P, i.e., it is
brought with infinitesimally slow constant speed. In
this situation, work done by the external force is the negative of the work
done by the electric force, and gets fully stored in the form of potential
energy of the charge q. If the external force is removed on reaching P, the
electric force will take the charge away from Q – the stored energy (potential
energy) at P is used to provide kinetic energy to the charge q in such a
way that the sum of the kinetic and potential energies is conserved.
Thus, work done by external forces in moving a charge q from R to P is
P

WRP = ∫F ext idr


R

= − ∫ FE idr (2.1)
R

This work done is against electrostatic repulsive force and gets stored
as potential energy.
At every point in electric field, a particle with charge q possesses a
certain electrostatic potential energy, this work done increases its potential
energy by an amount equal to potential energy difference between points
R and P.
Thus, potential energy difference
∆U = U P − U R = WRP (2.2)
( Note here that this displacement is in an opposite sense to the electric
force and hence work done by electric field is negative, i.e., –WRP .)
Therefore, we can define electric potential energy difference between
two points as the work required to be done by an external force in moving
(without accelerating ) charge q from one point to another for electric field
of any arbitrary charge configuration.
Two important comments may be made at this stage:
(i) The right side of Eq. (2.2) depends only on the initial and final positions
of the charge. It means that the work done by an electrostatic field in
moving a charge from one point to another depends only on the initial
and the final points and is independent of the path taken to go from
one point to the other. This is the fundamental characteristic of a
conservative force. The concept of the potential energy would not be
meaningful if the work depended on the path. The path-independence
of work done by an electrostatic field can be proved using the
52 Coulomb’s law. We omit this proof here.

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(ii) Equation (2.2) defines potential energy difference in terms
of the physically meaningful quantity work. Clearly,
potential energy so defined is undetermined to within an
additive constant.What this means is that the actual value
of potential energy is not physically significant; it is only
the difference of potential energy that is significant. We can
always add an arbitrary constant α to potential energy at
every point, since this will not change the potential energy
difference:
(U P + α ) − (U R + α ) = U P − U R
Put it differently, there is a freedom in choosing the point
where potential energy is zero. A convenient choice is to have
electrostatic potential energy zero at infinity. With this choice,
if we take the point R at infinity, we get from Eq. (2.2) Count Alessandro Volta

COUNT ALESSANDRO VOLTA (1745 –1827)


(1745 – 1827) Italian
W∞ P = U P − U ∞ = U P (2.3) physicist, professor at
Since the point P is arbitrary, Eq. (2.3) provides us with a Pavia. Volta established
definition of potential energy of a charge q at any point. that the animal electri-
Potential energy of charge q at a point (in the presence of field city observed by Luigi
Galvani, 1737–1798, in
due to any charge configuration) is the work done by the
experiments with frog
external force (equal and opposite to the electric force) in
muscle tissue placed in
bringing the charge q from infinity to that point.
contact with dissimilar
metals, was not due to
2.2 ELECTROSTATIC POTENTIAL any exceptional property
Consider any general static charge configuration. We define of animal tissues but
was also generated
potential energy of a test charge q in terms of the work done
whenever any wet body
on the charge q. This work is obviously proportional to q, since was sandwiched between
the force at any point is qE, where E is the electric field at that dissimilar metals. This
point due to the given charge configuration. It is, therefore, led him to develop the
convenient to divide the work by the amount of charge q, so first voltaic pile , or
that the resulting quantity is independent of q. In other words, battery, consisting of a
work done per unit test charge is characteristic of the electric large stack of moist disks
field associated with the charge configuration. This leads to of cardboard (electro-
lyte) sandwiched
the idea of electrostatic potential V due to a given charge
between disks of metal
configuration. From Eq. (2.1), we get: (electrodes).
Work done by external force in bringing a unit positive
charge from point R to P

 U −UR 
= VP – VR  = P  (2.4)
 q

where VP and VR are the electrostatic potentials at P and R, respectively.


Note, as before, that it is not the actual value of potential but the potential
difference that is physically significant. If, as before, we choose the
potential to be zero at infinity, Eq. (2.4) implies:
Work done by an external force in bringing a unit positive charge
from infinity to a point = electrostatic potential (V ) at that point. 53

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In other words, the electrostatic potential (V )
at any point in a region with electrostatic field is
the work done in bringing a unit positive
charge (without acceleration) from infinity to
that point.
The qualifying remarks made earlier regarding
potential energy also apply to the definition of
potential. To obtain the work done per unit test
charge, we should take an infinitesimal test charge
FIGURE 2.2 Work done on a test charge q δq, obtain the work done δW in bringing it from
by the electrostatic field due to any given infinity to the point and determine the ratio
charge configuration is independent δW/δq. Also, the external force at every point of the
of the path, and depends only on
path is to be equal and opposite to the electrostatic
its initial and final positions.
force on the test charge at that point.

2.3 POTENTIAL DUE TO A POINT CHARGE


Consider a point charge Q at the origin (Fig. 2.3). For definiteness, take Q
to be positive. We wish to determine the potential at any point P with
position vector r from the origin. For that we must
calculate the work done in bringing a unit positive
test charge from infinity to the point P. For Q > 0,
the work done against the repulsive force on the
test charge is positive. Since work done is
independent of the path, we choose a convenient
path – along the radial direction from infinity to
the point P.
At some intermediate point P′ on the path, the
electrostatic force on a unit positive charge is
FIGURE 2.3 Work done in bringing a unit
positive test charge from infinity to the Q ×1
point P, against the repulsive force of rˆ ′ (2.5)
4πε 0r '2
charge Q (Q > 0), is the potential at P due to
the charge Q. where rˆ ′ is the unit vector along OP′. Work done
against this force from r′ to r′ + ∆r′ is
Q
∆W = − ∆r ′ (2.6)
4πε 0r '2
The negative sign appears because for ∆r ′ < 0, ∆W is positive. Total
work done (W) by the external force is obtained by integrating Eq. (2.6)
from r′ = ∞ to r′ = r,

r r
Q Q Q
W = −∫ 2
dr ′ = = (2.7)

4 πε 0r ′ 4 πε 0r ′ ∞ 4 πε 0r
This, by definition is the potential at P due to the charge Q

Q
54 V (r ) = (2.8)
4πε 0r

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Electrostatic Potential
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Equation (2.8) is true for any
sign of the charge Q, though we
considered Q > 0 in its derivation.
For Q < 0, V < 0, i.e., work done (by
the external force) per unit positive
test charge in bringing it from
infinity to the point is negative. This
is equivalent to saying that work
done by the electrostatic force in
bringing the unit positive charge
form infinity to the point P is
positive. [This is as it should be,
since for Q < 0, the force on a unit
positive test charge is attractive, so
that the electrostatic force and the
displacement (from infinity to P) are FIGURE 2.4 Variation of potential V with r [in units of
in the same direction.] Finally, we (Q/4πε0) m-1] (blue curve) and field with r [in units
of (Q/4πε0) m-2] (black curve) for a point charge Q.
note that Eq. (2.8) is consistent with
the choice that potential at infinity
be zero.
Figure (2.4) shows how the electrostatic potential ( ∝ 1/r ) and the
electrostatic field ( ∝ 1/r 2 ) varies with r.

Example 2.1
(a) Calculate the potential at a point P due to a charge of 4 × 10–7C
located 9 cm away.
(b) Hence obtain the work done in bringing a charge of 2 × 10–9 C
from infinity to the point P. Does the answer depend on the path
along which the charge is brought?
Solution

(a)

= 4 × 104 V
(b) W = qV = 2 × 10–9C × 4 × 104V
= 8 × 10–5 J
EXAMPLE 2.1

No, work done will be path independent. Any arbitrary infinitesimal


path can be resolved into two perpendicular displacements: One along
r and another perpendicular to r. The work done corresponding to
the later will be zero.

2.4 POTENTIAL DUE TO AN ELECTRIC DIPOLE


As we learnt in the last chapter, an electric dipole consists of two charges
q and –q separated by a (small) distance 2a. Its total charge is zero. It is
characterised by a dipole moment vector p whose magnitude is q × 2a
and which points in the direction from –q to q (Fig. 2.5). We also saw that
the electric field of a dipole at a point with position vector r depends not
just on the magnitude r, but also on the angle between r and p. Further, 55

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the field falls off, at large distance, not as
1/r 2 (typical of field due to a single charge)
but as 1/r 3. We, now, determine the electric
potential due to a dipole and contrast it
with the potential due to a single charge.
As before, we take the origin at the
centre of the dipole. Now we know that the
electric field obeys the superposition
principle. Since potential is related to the
work done by the field, electrostatic
potential also follows the superposition
principle. Thus, the potential due to the
dipole is the sum of potentials due to the
charges q and –q

1 q q
V = − (2.9)
FIGURE 2.5 Quantities involved in the calculation 4πε 0  r1 r2 
of potential due to a dipole.
where r1 and r2 are the distances of the
point P from q and –q, respectively.
Now, by geometry,
r12 = r 2 + a 2 − 2ar cosθ

r22 = r 2 + a 2 + 2ar cosθ (2.10)


We take r much greater than a ( r >> a ) and retain terms only upto
the first order in a/r
2
 2a cos θ a 
r12 = r 2 1 − + 2 
 r r 

 2a cos θ 
≅ r 2 1 −  (2.11)
 r
Similarly,
 2a cos θ 
r22 ≅ r 2 1 +  (2.12)
 r
Using the Binomial theorem and retaining terms upto the first order
in a/r ; we obtain,
− 1/ 2
1 1 2a cos θ  1 a 
≅ 1 −  ≅ 1 + cos θ  [2.13(a)]
r1 r  r r r
− 1/ 2
1 1 2a cos θ  1 a 
≅ 1 +  ≅ 1 − cos θ  [2.13(b)]
r2 r  r r r
Using Eqs. (2.9) and (2.13) and p = 2qa, we get
q 2acosθ p cos θ
V = = (2.14)
4 πε 0 r2 4 πε 0r 2
56 Now, p cos θ = p.r̂

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance

where r̂ is the unit vector along the position vector OP.


The electric potential of a dipole is then given by
1 p.r̂
V = ; (r >> a) (2.15)
4 πε 0 r 2
Equation (2.15) is, as indicated, approximately true only for distances
large compared to the size of the dipole, so that higher order terms in
a/r are negligible. For a point dipole p at the origin, Eq. (2.15) is, however,
exact.
From Eq. (2.15), potential on the dipole axis (θ = 0, π ) is given by
1 p
V =± (2.16)
4 πε 0 r 2
(Positive sign for θ = 0, negative sign for θ = π.) The potential in the
equatorial plane (θ = π/2) is zero.
The important contrasting features of electric potential of a dipole
from that due to a single charge are clear from Eqs. (2.8) and (2.15):
(i) The potential due to a dipole depends not just on r but also on the
angle between the position vector r and the dipole moment vector p.
(It is, however, axially symmetric about p. That is, if you rotate the
position vector r about p, keeping θ fixed, the points corresponding
to P on the cone so generated will have the same potential as at P.)
(ii) The electric dipole potential falls off, at large distance, as 1/r 2, not as
1/r, characteristic of the potential due to a single charge. (You can
refer to the Fig. 2.5 for graphs of 1/r 2 versus r and 1/r versus r,
drawn there in another context.)

2.5 POTENTIAL DUE TO A SYSTEM OF CHARGES


Consider a system of charges q1, q2,…, qn with position vectors r1, r2,…,
rn relative to some origin (Fig. 2.6). The potential V1 at P due to the charge
q1 is
1 q1
V1 =
4 πε 0 r1P
where r1P is the distance between q1 and P.
Similarly, the potential V2 at P due to q2 and
V3 due to q3 are given by
1 q2 1 q3
V2 = , V3 =
4 πε 0 r2P 4 πε 0 r3P
where r2P and r3P are the distances of P from
charges q2 and q3, respectively; and so on for the
potential due to other charges. By the FIGURE 2.6 Potential at a point due to a
superposition principle, the potential V at P due system of charges is the sum of potentials
to the total charge configuration is the algebraic due to individual charges.
sum of the potentials due to the individual
charges
V = V1 + V2 + ... + Vn (2.17) 57

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Physics
1  q1 q 2 q 
=  + + ...... + n  (2.18)
4 πε 0  r1P r2 P rnP 
If we have a continuous charge distribution characterised by a charge
density ρ (r), we divide it, as before, into small volume elements each of
size ∆v and carrying a charge ρ ∆v. We then determine the potential due
to each volume element and sum (strictly speaking , integrate) over all
such contributions, and thus determine the potential due to the entire
distribution.
We have seen in Chapter 1 that for a uniformly charged spherical shell,
the electric field outside the shell is as if the entire charge is concentrated
at the centre. Thus, the potential outside the shell is given by
1 q
V = (r ≥ R ) [2.19(a)]
4πε 0 r
where q is the total charge on the shell and R its radius. The electric field
inside the shell is zero. This implies (Section 2.6) that potential is constant
inside the shell (as no work is done in moving a charge inside the shell),
and, therefore, equals its value at the surface, which is
1 q
V = [2.19(b)]
4 πε0 R

Example 2.2 Two charges 3 × 10–8 C and –2 × 10–8 C are located


15 cm apart. At what point on the line joining the two charges is the
electric potential zero? Take the potential at infinity to be zero.
Solution Let us take the origin O at the location of the positive charge.
The line joining the two charges is taken to be the x-axis; the negative
charge is taken to be on the right side of the origin (Fig. 2.7).

FIGURE 2.7

Let P be the required point on the x-axis where the potential is zero.
If x is the x-coordinate of P, obviously x must be positive. (There is no
possibility of potentials due to the two charges adding up to zero for
x < 0.) If x lies between O and A, we have

1  3 × 10–8 2 × 10 –8 
− = 0
4 πε 0  x × 10 (15 − x ) × 10 –2 
–2

where x is in cm. That is,


3 2
− =0
EXAMPLE 2.2

x 15 − x
which gives x = 9 cm.
If x lies on the extended line OA, the required condition is
3 2
− =0
x x − 15
58

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance

which gives

EXAMPLE 2.2
x = 45 cm
Thus, electric potential is zero at 9 cm and 45 cm away from the
positive charge on the side of the negative charge. Note that the
formula for potential used in the calculation required choosing
potential to be zero at infinity.

Example 2.3 Figures 2.8 (a) and (b) show the field lines of a positive
and negative point charge respectively.

equipotential-sufaces-12584/
http://video.mit.edu/watch/4-electrostatic-potential-elctric-energy-ev-conservative-field-
Electric potential, equipotential surfaces:
FIGURE 2.8

(a) Give the signs of the potential difference VP – VQ; VB – VA.


(b) Give the sign of the potential energy difference of a small negative
charge between the points Q and P; A and B.
(c) Give the sign of the work done by the field in moving a small
positive charge from Q to P.
(d) Give the sign of the work done by the external agency in moving
a small negative charge from B to A.
(e) Does the kinetic energy of a small negative charge increase or
decrease in going from B to A?
Solution
1
(a) As V ∝ , VP > VQ. Thus, (VP – VQ ) is positive. Also VB is less negative
r
than VA . Thus, VB > VA or (VB – VA) is positive.
(b) A small negative charge will be attracted towards positive charge.
The negative charge moves from higher potential energy to lower
potential energy. Therefore the sign of potential energy difference
of a small negative charge between Q and P is positive.
Similarly, (P.E.)A > (P.E.)B and hence sign of potential energy
differences is positive.
(c) In moving a small positive charge from Q to P, work has to be
done by an external agency against the electric field. Therefore,
work done by the field is negative.
EXAMPLE 2.3

(d) In moving a small negative charge from B to A work has to be


done by the external agency. It is positive.
(e) Due to force of repulsion on the negative charge, velocity decreases
and hence the kinetic energy decreases in going from B to A.
59

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2.6 EQUIPOTENTIAL SURFACES
An equipotential surface is a surface with a constant value of potential
at all points on the surface. For a single charge q, the potential is given
by Eq. (2.8):
1 q
V=
4 πεo r
This shows that V is a constant if r is constant. Thus, equipotential
surfaces of a single point charge are concentric spherical surfaces centred
at the charge.
Now the electric field lines for a single charge q are radial lines starting
from or ending at the charge, depending on whether q is positive or negative.
Clearly, the electric field at every point is normal to the equipotential surface
passing through that point. This is true in general: for any charge
configuration, equipotential surface through a point is normal to the
electric field at that point. The proof of this statement is simple.
If the field were not normal to the equipotential surface, it would
have non-zero component along the surface. To move a unit test charge
against the direction of the component of the field, work would have to
be done. But this is in contradiction to the definition of an equipotential
FIGURE 2.9 For a surface: there is no potential difference between any two points on the
single charge q surface and no work is required to move a test charge on the surface.
(a) equipotential The electric field must, therefore, be normal to the equipotential surface
surfaces are at every point. Equipotential surfaces offer an alternative visual picture
spherical surfaces in addition to the picture of electric field lines around a charge
centred at the
configuration.
charge, and
(b) electric field
lines are radial,
starting from the
charge if q > 0.

FIGURE 2.10 Equipotential surfaces for a uniform electric field.


For a uniform electric field E, say, along the x -axis, the equipotential
surfaces are planes normal to the x -axis, i.e., planes parallel to the y-z
plane (Fig. 2.10). Equipotential surfaces for (a) a dipole and (b) two
identical positive charges are shown in Fig. 2.11.

FIGURE 2.11 Some equipotential surfaces for (a) a dipole,


60 (b) two identical positive charges.

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Electrostatic Potential
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2.6.1 Relation between field and potential
Consider two closely spaced equipotential surfaces A and B (Fig. 2.12)
with potential values V and V + δ V, where δ V is the change in V in the
direction of the electric field E. Let P be a point on the
surface B. δ l is the perpendicular distance of the
surface A from P. Imagine that a unit positive charge
is moved along this perpendicular from the surface B
to surface A against the electric field. The work done
in this process is |E|δ l.
This work equals the potential difference
VA–VB.
Thus,
|E|δ l = V – (V + δV )= – δV

δV
i.e., |E|= − (2.20)
δl
Since δV is negative, δV = – |δV|. we can rewrite FIGURE 2.12 From the
Eq (2.20) as potential to the field.

δV δV
E =− =+ (2.21)
δl δl
We thus arrive at two important conclusions concerning the relation
between electric field and potential:
(i) Electric field is in the direction in which the potential decreases
steepest.
(ii) Its magnitude is given by the change in the magnitude of potential
per unit displacement normal to the equipotential surface at the point.

2.7 POTENTIAL ENERGY OF A SYSTEM OF CHARGES


Consider first the simple case of two charges q1and q2 with position vector
r1 and r 2 relative to some origin. Let us calculate the work done
(externally) in building up this configuration. This means that we consider
the charges q1 and q2 initially at infinity and determine the work done by
an external agency to bring the charges to the given locations. Suppose,
first the charge q1 is brought from infinity to the point r1. There is no
external field against which work needs to be done, so work done in
bringing q1 from infinity to r1 is zero. This charge produces a potential in
space given by
1 q1
V1 =
4 πε 0 r1P
where r1P is the distance of a point P in space from the location of q1.
From the definition of potential, work done in bringing charge q2 from
infinity to the point r2 is q2 times the potential at r2 due to q1:
1 q1q2
work done on q2 =
4 πε 0 r12 61

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Physics
where r12 is the distance between points 1 and 2.
Since electrostatic force is conservative, this work gets
stored in the form of potential energy of the system. Thus,
the potential energy of a system of two charges q1 and q2 is
FIGURE 2.13 Potential energy of a 1 q1q 2
system of charges q1 and q2 is
U = (2.22)
4 πε 0 r12
directly proportional to the product
of charges and inversely to the Obviously, if q2 was brought first to its present location and
distance between them. q1 brought later, the potential energy U would be the same.
More generally, the potential energy expression,
Eq. (2.22), is unaltered whatever way the charges are brought to the specified
locations, because of path-independence of work for electrostatic force.
Equation (2.22) is true for any sign of q1and q2. If q1q2 > 0, potential
energy is positive. This is as expected, since for like charges (q1q2 > 0),
electrostatic force is repulsive and a positive amount of work is needed to
be done against this force to bring the charges from infinity to a finite
distance apart. For unlike charges (q1 q2 < 0), the electrostatic force is
attractive. In that case, a positive amount of work is needed against this
force to take the charges from the given location to infinity. In other words,
a negative amount of work is needed for the reverse path (from infinity to
the present locations), so the potential energy is negative.
Equation (2.22) is easily generalised for a system of any number of
point charges. Let us calculate the potential energy of a system of three
charges q1, q2 and q3 located at r1, r2, r3, respectively. To bring q1 first
from infinity to r1, no work is required. Next we bring q2 from infinity to
r2. As before, work done in this step is
1 q1q2
q2V1( r2 ) = (2.23)
4 πε 0 r12
The charges q1 and q2 produce a potential, which at any point P is
given by

1  q1 q 2 
V1, 2 = + (2.24)
4 πε 0  r1P r2 P 
Work done next in bringing q3 from infinity to the point r3 is q3 times
V1, 2 at r3

1  q1q3 q 2q 3 
q3V1, 2 ( r3 ) = + (2.25)
4 πε 0  r13 r23 
The total work done in assembling the charges
at the given locations is obtained by adding the work
done in different steps [Eq. (2.23) and Eq. (2.25)],

1  q1q 2 q1q 3 q 2q 3 
U = + + (2.26)
FIGURE 2.14 Potential energy of a 4 πε 0  r12 r13 r23 
system of three charges is given by Again, because of the conservative nature of the
Eq. (2.26), with the notation given
electrostatic force (or equivalently, the path
in the figure.
independence of work done), the final expression for
U, Eq. (2.26), is independent of the manner in which
62 the configuration is assembled. The potential energy

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
is characteristic of the present state of configuration, and not the way
the state is achieved.

Example 2.4 Four charges are arranged at the corners of a square


ABCD of side d, as shown in Fig. 2.15.(a) Find the work required to
put together this arrangement. (b) A charge q0 is brought to the centre
E of the square, the four charges being held fixed at its corners. How
much extra work is needed to do this?

FIGURE 2.15

Solution
(a) Since the work done depends on the final arrangement of the
charges, and not on how they are put together, we calculate work
needed for one way of putting the charges at A, B, C and D. Suppose,
first the charge +q is brought to A, and then the charges –q, +q, and
–q are brought to B, C and D, respectively. The total work needed can
be calculated in steps:
(i) Work needed to bring charge +q to A when no charge is present
elsewhere: this is zero.
(ii) Work needed to bring –q to B when +q is at A. This is given by
(charge at B) × (electrostatic potential at B due to charge +q at A)
 q  q2
= −q ×  = −
 4 πε 0 d  4 πε 0d
(iii) Work needed to bring charge +q to C when +q is at A and –q is at
B. This is given by (charge at C) × (potential at C due to charges
at A and B)
 +q −q 
= +q  + 
 4 πε 0 d 2 4 πε 0d 
−q 2  1 
= 1−
4 πε 0 d  
2
(iv) Work needed to bring –q to D when +q at A,–q at B, and +q at C.
This is given by (charge at D) × (potential at D due to charges at A,
B and C)
EXAMPLE 2.4

 +q −q q 
= −q  + + 
 4 πε 0 d 4πε 0d 2 4 πε 0d 
−q 2  1 
=  2 − 
4 πε 0d 2 63

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Physics
Add the work done in steps (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv). The total work
required is
−q 2   1   1 
= ( 0) + (1) + 1 −  + 2 − 
4 πε 0 d   2  2

−q 2
=
4 πε 0 d
(4− 2 )
The work done depends only on the arrangement of the charges, and
not how they are assembled. By definition, this is the total
electrostatic energy of the charges.
(Students may try calculating same work/energy by taking charges
in any other order they desire and convince themselves that the energy
will remain the same.)
(b) The extra work necessary to bring a charge q0 to the point E when
EXAMPLE 2.4

the four charges are at A, B, C and D is q0 × (electrostatic potential at


E due to the charges at A, B, C and D). The electrostatic potential at
E is clearly zero since potential due to A and C is cancelled by that
due to B and D. Hence, no work is required to bring any charge to
point E.

2.8 POTENTIAL ENERGY IN AN EXTERNAL FIELD


2.8.1 Potential energy of a single charge
In Section 2.7, the source of the electric field was specified – the charges
and their locations - and the potential energy of the system of those charges
was determined. In this section, we ask a related but a distinct question.
What is the potential energy of a charge q in a given field? This question
was, in fact, the starting point that led us to the notion of the electrostatic
potential (Sections 2.1 and 2.2). But here we address this question again
to clarify in what way it is different from the discussion in Section 2.7.
The main difference is that we are now concerned with the potential
energy of a charge (or charges) in an external field. The external field E is
not produced by the given charge(s) whose potential energy we wish to
calculate. E is produced by sources external to the given charge(s).The
external sources may be known, but often they are unknown or
unspecified; what is specified is the electric field E or the electrostatic
potential V due to the external sources. We assume that the charge q
does not significantly affect the sources producing the external field. This
is true if q is very small, or the external sources are held fixed by other
unspecified forces. Even if q is finite, its influence on the external sources
may still be ignored in the situation when very strong sources far away
at infinity produce a finite field E in the region of interest. Note again that
we are interested in determining the potential energy of a given charge q
(and later, a system of charges) in the external field; we are not interested
in the potential energy of the sources producing the external electric field.
The external electric field E and the corresponding external potential
V may vary from point to point. By definition, V at a point P is the work
64 done in bringing a unit positive charge from infinity to the point P.

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
(We continue to take potential at infinity to be zero.) Thus, work done in
bringing a charge q from infinity to the point P in the external field is qV.
This work is stored in the form of potential energy of q. If the point P has
position vector r relative to some origin, we can write:
Potential energy of q at r in an external field
= qV (r) (2.27)
where V(r) is the external potential at the point r.
Thus, if an electron with charge q = e = 1.6×10–19 C is accelerated by
a potential difference of ∆V = 1 volt, it would gain energy of q∆V = 1.6 ×
10–19J. This unit of energy is defined as 1 electron volt or 1eV, i.e.,
1 eV=1.6 × 10–19J. The units based on eV are most commonly used in
atomic, nuclear and particle physics, (1 keV = 103eV = 1.6 × 10–16J, 1 MeV
= 106eV = 1.6 × 10–13J, 1 GeV = 109eV = 1.6 × 10–10J and 1 TeV = 1012eV
= 1.6 × 10–7J). [This has already been defined on Page 117, XI Physics
Part I, Table 6.1.]

2.8.2 Potential energy of a system of two charges in an


external field
Next, we ask: what is the potential energy of a system of two charges q1
and q2 located at r1and r2, respectively, in an external field? First, we
calculate the work done in bringing the charge q1 from infinity to r1.
Work done in this step is q1 V(r1), using Eq. (2.27). Next, we consider the
work done in bringing q2 to r2. In this step, work is done not only against
the external field E but also against the field due to q1.
Work done on q2 against the external field
= q2 V (r2)
Work done on q2 against the field due to q1
q1q2
=
4 πεo r12
where r12 is the distance between q1 and q2. We have made use of Eqs.
(2.27) and (2.22). By the superposition principle for fields, we add up
the work done on q2 against the two fields (E and that due to q1):
Work done in bringing q2 to r2
q1q 2
= q 2V ( r2 ) + (2.28)
4πε or12
Thus,
Potential energy of the system
= the total work done in assembling the configuration
q1q 2
= q1V ( r1 ) + q 2V ( r2 ) + (2.29)
4 πε 0r12

Example 2.5
EXAMPLE 2.5

(a) Determine the electrostatic potential energy of a system consisting


of two charges 7 µC and –2 µC (and with no external field) placed
at (–9 cm, 0, 0) and (9 cm, 0, 0) respectively.
(b) How much work is required to separate the two charges infinitely
away from each other? 65

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(c) Suppose that the same system of charges is now placed in an
external electric field E = A (1/r 2); A = 9 × 105 C m–2. What would
the electrostatic energy of the configuration be?
Solution
1 q1q2 7 × ( −2) × 10 −12
(a) U = = 9 × 109 × = –0.7 J.
4 πε 0 r 0.18
(b) W = U2 – U1 = 0 – U = 0 – (–0.7) = 0.7 J.
(c) The mutual interaction energy of the two charges remains
unchanged. In addition, there is the energy of interaction of the
two charges with the external electric field. We find,
7 µC −2µC
q1V (r1 ) + q 2V ( r2 ) = A+A
0.09m 0.09m
EXAMPLE 2.5

and the net electrostatic energy is


q1q2 7 µC −2 µC
q1V ( r1 ) + q2V ( r2 ) + =A +A − 0.7 J
4 πε 0r12 0.09 m 0.09 m
= 70 − 20 − 0.7 = 49.3 J

2.8.3 Potential energy of a dipole in an external field


Consider a dipole with charges q1 = +q and q2 = –q placed in a uniform
electric field E, as shown in Fig. 2.16.
As seen in the last chapter, in a uniform electric field,
the dipole experiences no net force; but experiences a
torque τ given by
τ = p×E (2.30)
which will tend to rotate it (unless p is parallel or
antiparallel to E). Suppose an external torque τext is
applied in such a manner that it just neutralises this
torque and rotates it in the plane of paper from angle θ0
to angle θ1 at an infinitesimal angular speed and without
angular acceleration. The amount of work done by the
external torque will be given by
θ1 θ1

FIGURE 2.16 Potential energy of a


W = ∫θ 0
τ ext (θ )dθ = ∫θ 0
pE sin θ dθ
dipole in a uniform external field.
= pE (cos θ0 − cos θ1 ) (2.31)

This work is stored as the potential energy of the system. We can then
associate potential energy U(θ ) with an inclination θ of the dipole. Similar
to other potential energies, there is a freedom in choosing the angle where
the potential energy U is taken to be zero. A natural choice is to take
θ0 = π / 2. (Αn explanation for it is provided towards the end of discussion.)
We can then write,

 π 
66 U (θ ) = pE  cos − cos θ  = pE cos θ = − p.E (2.32)
 2 

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
This expression can alternately be understood also from Eq. (2.29).
We apply Eq. (2.29) to the present system of two charges +q and –q. The
potential energy expression then reads
q2
U ′ (θ ) = q [V ( r1 ) − V ( r2 )] − (2.33)
4 πε 0 × 2a
Here, r1 and r2 denote the position vectors of +q and –q. Now, the
potential difference between positions r1 and r2 equals the work done
in bringing a unit positive charge against field from r2 to r1. The
displacement parallel to the force is 2a cosθ. Thus, [V(r1)–V (r2)] =
–E × 2a cosθ . We thus obtain,
q2 q2
U ′ (θ ) = − pE cos θ − = − p.E − (2.34)
4πε 0 × 2a 4 πε 0 × 2a
We note that U′ (θ ) differs from U(θ ) by a quantity which is just a constant
for a given dipole. Since a constant is insignificant for potential energy, we
can drop the second term in Eq. (2.34) and it then reduces to Eq. (2.32).
We can now understand why we took θ0=π/2. In this case, the work
done against the external field E in bringing +q and – q are equal and
opposite and cancel out, i.e., q [V (r1) – V (r2)]=0.

Example 2.6 A molecule of a substance has a permanent electric


dipole moment of magnitude 10–29 C m. A mole of this substance is
polarised (at low temperature) by applying a strong electrostatic field
of magnitude 106 V m–1. The direction of the field is suddenly changed
by an angle of 60º. Estimate the heat released by the substance in
aligning its dipoles along the new direction of the field. For simplicity,
assume 100% polarisation of the sample.
Solution Here, dipole moment of each molecules = 10–29 C m
As 1 mole of the substance contains 6 × 1023 molecules,
total dipole moment of all the molecules, p = 6 × 1023 × 10–29 C m
= 6 × 10–6 C m
EXAMPLE 2.6

Initial potential energy, Ui = –pE cos θ = –6×10–6×106 cos 0° = –6 J


Final potential energy (when θ = 60°), Uf = –6 × 10–6 × 106 cos 60° = –3 J
Change in potential energy = –3 J – (–6J) = 3 J
So, there is loss in potential energy. This must be the energy released
by the substance in the form of heat in aligning its dipoles.

2.9 ELECTROSTATICS OF CONDUCTORS


Conductors and insulators were described briefly in Chapter 1.
Conductors contain mobile charge carriers. In metallic conductors, these
charge carriers are electrons. In a metal, the outer (valence) electrons
part away from their atoms and are free to move. These electrons are free
within the metal but not free to leave the metal. The free electrons form a
kind of ‘gas’; they collide with each other and with the ions, and move
randomly in different directions. In an external electric field, they drift
against the direction of the field. The positive ions made up of the nuclei
and the bound electrons remain held in their fixed positions. In electrolytic
conductors, the charge carriers are both positive and negative ions; but 67

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Physics
the situation in this case is more involved – the movement of the charge
carriers is affected both by the external electric field as also by the
so-called chemical forces (see Chapter 3). We shall restrict our discussion
to metallic solid conductors. Let us note important results regarding
electrostatics of conductors.

1. Inside a conductor, electrostatic field is zero


Consider a conductor, neutral or charged. There may also be an external
electrostatic field. In the static situation, when there is no current inside
or on the surface of the conductor, the electric field is zero everywhere
inside the conductor. This fact can be taken as the defining property of a
conductor. A conductor has free electrons. As long as electric field is not
zero, the free charge carriers would experience force and drift. In the
static situation, the free charges have so distributed themselves that the
electric field is zero everywhere inside. Electrostatic field is zero inside a
conductor.

2. At the surface of a charged conductor, electrostatic field


must be normal to the surface at every point
If E were not normal to the surface, it would have some non-zero
component along the surface. Free charges on the surface of the conductor
would then experience force and move. In the static situation, therefore,
E should have no tangential component. Thus electrostatic field at the
surface of a charged conductor must be normal to the surface at every
point. (For a conductor without any surface charge density, field is zero
even at the surface.) See result 5.

3. The interior of a conductor can have no excess charge in


the static situation
A neutral conductor has equal amounts of positive and negative charges
in every small volume or surface element. When the conductor is charged,
the excess charge can reside only on the surface in the static situation.
This follows from the Gauss’s law. Consider any arbitrary volume element
v inside a conductor. On the closed surface S bounding the volume
element v, electrostatic field is zero. Thus the total electric flux through S
is zero. Hence, by Gauss’s law, there is no net charge enclosed by S. But
the surface S can be made as small as you like, i.e., the volume v can be
made vanishingly small. This means there is no net charge at any point
inside the conductor, and any excess charge must reside at the surface.

4. Electrostatic potential is constant throughout the volume


of the conductor and has the same value (as inside) on
its surface
This follows from results 1 and 2 above. Since E = 0 inside the conductor
and has no tangential component on the surface, no work is done in
moving a small test charge within the conductor and on its surface. That
is, there is no potential difference between any two points inside or on
68 the surface of the conductor. Hence, the result. If the conductor is charged,

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
electric field normal to the surface exists; this means potential will be
different for the surface and a point just outside the surface.
In a system of conductors of arbitrary size, shape and
charge configuration, each conductor is characterised by a constant
value of potential, but this constant may differ from one conductor to
the other.

5. Electric field at the surface of a charged conductor


σ
E= ˆ
n (2.35)
ε0
where σ is the surface charge density and n̂ is a unit vector normal
to the surface in the outward direction.
To derive the result, choose a pill box (a short cylinder) as the Gaussian
surface about any point P on the surface, as shown in Fig. 2.17. The pill
box is partly inside and partly outside the surface of the conductor. It
has a small area of cross section δ S and negligible height.
Just inside the surface, the electrostatic field is zero; just outside, the
field is normal to the surface with magnitude E. Thus,
the contribution to the total flux through the pill box
comes only from the outside (circular) cross-section
of the pill box. This equals ± EδS (positive for σ > 0,
negative for σ < 0), since over the small area δS, E
may be considered constant and E and δS are parallel
or antiparallel. The charge enclosed by the pill box
is σδS.
By Gauss’s law
σ δS
Eδ S =
ε0

σ
E= (2.36)
ε0
Including the fact that electric field is normal to the FIGURE 2.17 The Gaussian surface
surface, we get the vector relation, Eq. (2.35), which (a pill box) chosen to derive Eq. (2.35)
is true for both signs of σ. For σ > 0, electric field is for electric field at the surface of a
normal to the surface outward; for σ < 0, electric field charged conductor.
is normal to the surface inward.

6. Electrostatic shielding
Consider a conductor with a cavity, with no charges inside the cavity. A
remarkable result is that the electric field inside the cavity is zero, whatever
be the size and shape of the cavity and whatever be the charge on the
conductor and the external fields in which it might be placed. We have
proved a simple case of this result already: the electric field inside a charged
spherical shell is zero. The proof of the result for the shell makes use of
the spherical symmetry of the shell (see Chapter 1). But the vanishing of
electric field in the (charge-free) cavity of a conductor is, as mentioned
above, a very general result. A related result is that even if the conductor 69

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Physics
is charged or charges are induced on a neutral
conductor by an external field, all charges reside
only on the outer surface of a conductor with cavity.
The proofs of the results noted in Fig. 2.18 are
omitted here, but we note their important
implication. Whatever be the charge and field
configuration outside, any cavity in a conductor
remains shielded from outside electric influence: the
field inside the cavity is always zero. This is known
as electrostatic shielding. The effect can be made
use of in protecting sensitive instruments from
FIGURE 2.18 The electric field inside a
outside electrical influence. Figure 2.19 gives a
cavity of any conductor is zero. All
summary of the important electrostatic properties
charges reside only on the outer surface
of a conductor with cavity. (There are no of a conductor.
charges placed in the cavity.)

FIGURE 2.19 Some important electrostatic properties of a conductor.

Example 2.7
(a) A comb run through one’s dry hair attracts small bits of paper.
Why?
What happens if the hair is wet or if it is a rainy day? (Remember,
a paper does not conduct electricity.)
(b) Ordinary rubber is an insulator. But special rubber tyres of
aircraft are made slightly conducting. Why is this necessary?
(c) Vehicles carrying inflammable materials usually have metallic
ropes touching the ground during motion. Why?
(d) A bird perches on a bare high power line, and nothing happens
to the bird. A man standing on the ground touches the same line
and gets a fatal shock. Why?
Solution
EXAMPLE 2.7

(a) This is because the comb gets charged by friction. The molecules
in the paper gets polarised by the charged comb, resulting in a
net force of attraction. If the hair is wet, or if it is rainy day, friction
between hair and the comb reduces. The comb does not get
charged and thus it will not attract small bits of paper.
70

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and Capacitance

(b) To enable them to conduct charge (produced by friction) to the

EXAMPLE 2.7
ground; as too much of static electricity accumulated may result
in spark and result in fire.
(c) Reason similar to (b).
(d) Current passes only when there is difference in potential.

2.10 DIELECTRICS AND POLARISATION


Dielectrics are non-conducting substances. In contrast to conductors,
they have no (or negligible number of ) charge carriers. Recall from Section
2.9 what happens when a conductor is placed in an
external electric field. The free charge carriers move
and charge distribution in the conductor adjusts
itself in such a way that the electric field due to
induced charges opposes the external field within
the conductor. This happens until, in the static
situation, the two fields cancel each other and the
net electrostatic field in the conductor is zero. In a
dielectric, this free movement of charges is not
possible. It turns out that the external field induces
dipole moment by stretching or re-orienting
molecules of the dielectric. The collective effect of all
the molecular dipole moments is net charges on the
surface of the dielectric which produce a field that FIGURE 2.20 Difference in behaviour
of a conductor and a dielectric
opposes the external field. Unlike in a conductor,
in an external electric field.
however, the opposing field so induced does not
exactly cancel the external field. It only reduces it.
The extent of the effect depends on the
nature of the dielectric. To understand the
effect, we need to look at the charge
distribution of a dielectric at the
molecular level.
The molecules of a substance may be
polar or non-polar. In a non-polar
molecule, the centres of positive and
negative charges coincide. The molecule
then has no permanent (or intrinsic) dipole
moment. Examples of non-polar molecules
are oxygen (O 2 ) and hydrogen (H 2 )
molecules which, because of their
symmetry, have no dipole moment. On the
other hand, a polar molecule is one in which
the centres of positive and negative charges
are separated (even when there is no
FIGURE 2.21 Some examples of polar
external field). Such molecules have a
and non-polar molecules.
permanent dipole moment. An ionic
molecule such as HCl or a molecule of water
(H2O) are examples of polar molecules. 71

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Physics
In an external electric field, the
positive and negative charges of a non-
polar molecule are displaced in opposite
directions. The displacement stops when
the external force on the constituent
charges of the molecule is balanced by
the restoring force (due to internal fields
in the molecule). The non-polar molecule
thus develops an induced dipole moment.
The dielectric is said to be polarised by
the external field. We consider only the
simple situation when the induced dipole
moment is in the direction of the field and
is proportional to the field strength.
(Substances for which this assumption
is true are called linear isotropic
dielectrics.) The induced dipole moments
of different molecules add up giving a net
dipole moment of the dielectric in the
presence of the external field.
A dielectric with polar molecules also
develops a net dipole moment in an
external field, but for a different reason.
FIGURE 2.22 A dielectric develops a net dipole In the absence of any external field, the
moment in an external electric field. (a) Non-polar different permanent dipoles are oriented
molecules, (b) Polar molecules.
randomly due to thermal agitation; so
the total dipole moment is zero. When
an external field is applied, the individual dipole moments tend to align
with the field. When summed overall the molecules, there is then a net
dipole moment in the direction of the external field, i.e., the dielectric is
polarised. The extent of polarisation depends on the relative strength of
two mutually opposite factors: the dipole potential energy in the external
field tending to align the dipoles with the field and thermal energy tending
to disrupt the alignment. There may be, in addition, the ‘induced dipole
moment’ effect as for non-polar molecules, but generally the alignment
effect is more important for polar molecules.
Thus in either case, whether polar or non-polar, a dielectric develops
a net dipole moment in the presence of an external field. The dipole
moment per unit volume is called polarisation and is denoted by P. For
linear isotropic dielectrics,
P = χe E (2.37)
where χe is a constant characteristic of the dielectric and is known as the
electric susceptibility of the dielectric medium.
It is possible to relate χe to the molecular properties of the substance,
but we shall not pursue that here.
The question is: how does the polarised dielectric modify the original
external field inside it? Let us consider, for simplicity, a rectangular
dielectric slab placed in a uniform external field E0 parallel to two of its
72 faces. The field causes a uniform polarisation P of the dielectric. Thus

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and Capacitance
every volume element ∆v of the slab has a dipole moment
P ∆v in the direction of the field. The volume element ∆v is
macroscopically small but contains a very large number of
molecular dipoles. Anywhere inside the dielectric, the
volume element ∆v has no net charge (though it has net
dipole moment). This is, because, the positive charge of one
dipole sits close to the negative charge of the adjacent dipole.
However, at the surfaces of the dielectric normal to the
electric field, there is evidently a net charge density. As seen
in Fig 2.23, the positive ends of the dipoles remain
unneutralised at the right surface and the negative ends at
the left surface. The unbalanced charges are the induced
charges due to the external field.
Thus, the polarised dielectric is equivalent to two charged
surfaces with induced surface charge densities, say σp
and –σp. Clearly, the field produced by these surface charges
opposes the external field. The total field in the dielectric FIGURE 2.23 A uniformly
is, thereby, reduced from the case when no dielectric is polarised dielectric amounts
present. We should note that the surface charge density to induced surface charge
±σp arises from bound (not free charges) in the dielectric. density, but no volume
charge density.
2.11 CAPACITORS AND CAPACITANCE
A capacitor is a system of two conductors separated by an insulator
(Fig. 2.24). The conductors have charges, say Q1 and Q2, and potentials
V1 and V2. Usually, in practice, the two conductors have charges Q
and – Q, with potential difference V = V1 – V2 between them. We shall
consider only this kind of charge configuration of the capacitor. (Even a
single conductor can be used as a capacitor by assuming the other at
infinity.) The conductors may be so charged by connecting them to the
two terminals of a battery. Q is called the charge of the capacitor, though
this, in fact, is the charge on one of the conductors – the total charge of
the capacitor is zero.
The electric field in the region between the
conductors is proportional to the charge Q. That
is, if the charge on the capacitor is, say doubled,
the electric field will also be doubled at every point.
(This follows from the direct proportionality
between field and charge implied by Coulomb’s
law and the superposition principle.) Now,
potential difference V is the work done per unit
positive charge in taking a small test charge from
the conductor 2 to 1 against the field. FIGURE 2.24 A system of two conductors
Consequently, V is also proportional to Q, and the separated by an insulator forms a capacitor.
ratio Q/V is a constant:
Q
C= (2.38)
V
The constant C is called the capacitance of the capacitor. C is independent
of Q or V, as stated above. The capacitance C depends only on the 73

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geometrical configuration (shape, size, separation) of the system of two
conductors. [As we shall see later, it also depends on the nature of the
insulator (dielectric) separating the two conductors.] The SI unit of
capacitance is 1 farad (=1 coulomb volt-1) or 1 F = 1 C V –1. A capacitor
with fixed capacitance is symbolically shown as ---||---, while the one with
variable capacitance is shown as .
Equation (2.38) shows that for large C, V is small for a given Q. This
means a capacitor with large capacitance can hold large amount of charge
Q at a relatively small V. This is of practical importance. High potential
difference implies strong electric field around the conductors. A strong
electric field can ionise the surrounding air and accelerate the charges so
produced to the oppositely charged plates, thereby neutralising the charge
on the capacitor plates, at least partly. In other words, the charge of the
capacitor leaks away due to the reduction in insulating power of the
intervening medium.
The maximum electric field that a dielectric medium can withstand
without break-down (of its insulating property) is called its dielectric
strength; for air it is about 3 × 106 Vm–1. For a separation between
conductors of the order of 1 cm or so, this field corresponds to a potential
difference of 3 × 104 V between the conductors. Thus, for a capacitor to
store a large amount of charge without leaking, its capacitance should
be high enough so that the potential difference and hence the electric
field do not exceed the break-down limits. Put differently, there is a limit
to the amount of charge that can be stored on a given capacitor without
significant leaking. In practice, a farad is a very big unit; the most common
units are its sub-multiples 1 µF = 10–6 F, 1 nF = 10–9 F, 1 pF = 10–12 F,
etc. Besides its use in storing charge, a capacitor is a key element of most
ac circuits with important functions, as described in Chapter 7.

2.12 THE PARALLEL PLATE CAPACITOR


A parallel plate capacitor consists of two large plane parallel conducting
plates separated by a small distance (Fig. 2.25). We first take the
intervening medium between the plates to be
vacuum. The effect of a dielectric medium between
the plates is discussed in the next section. Let A be
the area of each plate and d the separation between
them. The two plates have charges Q and –Q. Since
d is much smaller than the linear dimension of the
plates (d2 << A), we can use the result on electric
field by an infinite plane sheet of uniform surface
charge density (Section 1.15). Plate 1 has surface
charge density σ = Q/A and plate 2 has a surface
charge density –σ. Using Eq. (1.33), the electric field
in different regions is:
Outer region I (region above the plate 1),
FIGURE 2.25 The parallel plate capacitor.
σ σ
74 E= − =0 (2.39)
2ε 0 2ε 0

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
Outer region II (region below the plate 2),
σ σ
E= − =0 (2.40)
2ε 0 2ε 0
In the inner region between the plates 1 and 2, the electric fields due
to the two charged plates add up, giving
σ σ σ Q
E= + = = (2.41)
2ε 0 2ε 0 ε 0 ε 0 A
The direction of electric field is from the positive to the negative plate.
Thus, the electric field is localised between the two plates and is
uniform throughout. For plates with finite area, this will not be true near
the outer boundaries of the plates. The field lines bend outward at the
edges — an effect called ‘fringing of the field’. By the same token, σ will

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Factors affecting capacitance, capacitors in action
not be strictly uniform on the entire plate. [E and σ are related by Eq.
(2.35).] However, for d2 << A, these effects can be ignored in the regions
sufficiently far from the edges, and the field there is given by Eq. (2.41).
Now for uniform electric field, potential difference is simply the electric
field times the distance between the plates, that is,
1 Qd
V = Ed = (2.42)
ε0 A
The capacitance C of the parallel plate capacitor is then
Q ε0 A
C= = = (2.43)
V d
which, as expected, depends only on the geometry of the system. For
typical values like A = 1 m2, d = 1 mm, we get
8.85 × 10−12 C2 N –1m –2 × 1m 2
C= = 8.85 × 10 −9 F (2.44)
10 −3 m
(You can check that if 1F= 1C V–1 = 1C (NC–1m)–1 = 1 C2 N–1m–1.)
This shows that 1F is too big a unit in practice, as remarked earlier.
Another way of seeing the ‘bigness’ of 1F is to calculate the area of the
plates needed to have C = 1F for a separation of, say 1 cm:

A=
Cd
= 1F × 10−2 m
= 109 m 2 (2.45)
ε0 8.85 × 10 −12 C2 N –1 m –2
which is a plate about 30 km in length and breadth!

2.13 EFFECT OF DIELECTRIC ON CAPACITANCE


With the understanding of the behaviour of dielectrics in an external
field developed in Section 2.10, let us see how the capacitance of a parallel
plate capacitor is modified when a dielectric is present. As before, we
have two large plates, each of area A, separated by a distance d. The
charge on the plates is ±Q, corresponding to the charge density ±σ (with
σ = Q/A). When there is vacuum between the plates,
σ
E0 =
ε0 75

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and the potential difference V0 is
V0 = E0d
The capacitance C0 in this case is
Q A
C0 = = ε0 (2.46)
V0 d
Consider next a dielectric inserted between the plates fully occupying
the intervening region. The dielectric is polarised by the field and, as
explained in Section 2.10, the effect is equivalent to two charged sheets
(at the surfaces of the dielectric normal to the field) with surface charge
densities σp and –σp. The electric field in the dielectric then corresponds
to the case when the net surface charge density on the plates is ±(σ – σp ).
That is,
σ − σP
E= (2.47)
ε0
so that the potential difference across the plates is
σ − σP
V = Ed = d (2.48)
ε0
For linear dielectrics, we expect σp to be proportional to E0, i.e., to σ.
Thus, (σ – σp ) is proportional to σ and we can write
σ
σ − σP = (2.49)
K
where K is a constant characteristic of the dielectric. Clearly, K > 1. We
then have
σd Qd
V = = (2.50)
ε0 K Aε0 K
The capacitance C, with dielectric between the plates, is then
Q ε 0 KA
C= = (2.51)
V d
The product ε0K is called the permittivity of the medium and is
denoted by ε
ε = ε0 K (2.52)
For vacuum K = 1 and ε = ε0; ε0 is called the permittivity of the vacuum.
The dimensionless ratio
ε
K= (2.53)
ε0
is called the dielectric constant of the substance. As remarked before,
from Eq. (2.49), it is clear that K is greater than 1. From Eqs. (2.46) and
(2. 51)
C
K = (2.54)
C0
Thus, the dielectric constant of a substance is the factor (>1) by which
the capacitance increases from its vacuum value, when the dielectric is
76 inserted fully between the plates of a capacitor. Though we arrived at

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Electrostatic Potential
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Eq. (2.54) for the case of a parallel plate capacitor, it holds good for any
type of capacitor and can, in fact, be viewed in general as a definition of
the dielectric constant of a substance.

ELECTRIC DISPLACEMENT

We have introduced the notion of dielectric constant and arrived at Eq. (2.54), without
giving the explicit relation between the induced charge density σp and the polarisation P.
We take without proof the result that
ˆ
σ P = P in
where n̂ is a unit vector along the outward normal to the surface. Above equation is
general, true for any shape of the dielectric. For the slab in Fig. 2.23, P is along n̂ at the
right surface and opposite to n̂ at the left surface. Thus at the right surface, induced
charge density is positive and at the left surface, it is negative, as guessed already in our
qualitative discussion before. Putting the equation for electric field in vector form
ˆ
σ − P in
ˆ=
E in
ε0
or (ε0 E + P) i n̂ =σ
The quantity ε0 E + P is called the electric displacement and is denoted by D. It is a
vector quantity. Thus,
D = ε0 E + P, D i n̂ = σ,
The significance of D is this : in vacuum, E is related to the free charge density σ.
When a dielectric medium is present, the corresponding role is taken up by D. For a
dielectric medium, it is D not E that is directly related to free charge density σ, as seen in
above equation. Since P is in the same direction as E, all the three vectors P, E and D are
parallel.
The ratio of the magnitudes of D and E is
D σε 0
= = ε0 K
E σ − σP
Thus,
D = ε0 K E
and P = D –ε0E = ε0 (K –1)E
This gives for the electric susceptibility χe defined in Eq. (2.37)
χe =ε0 (K–1)

Example 2.8 A slab of material of dielectric constant K has the same


area as the plates of a parallel-plate capacitor but has a thickness
(3/4)d, where d is the separation of the plates. How is the capacitance
EXAMPLE 2.8

changed when the slab is inserted between the plates?


Solution Let E0 = V0/d be the electric field between the plates when
there is no dielectric and the potential difference is V0. If the dielectric
is now inserted, the electric field in the dielectric will be E = E0/K.
The potential difference will then be 77

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1 E 3
V = E0( d ) + 0 ( d )
4 K 4
1 3 K +3
= E 0d ( + ) = V0
EXAMPLE 2.8 4 4K 4K
The potential difference decreases by the factor (K + 3)/K while the
free charge Q0 on the plates remains unchanged. The capacitance
thus increases
Q 4K Q0 4K
C= 0 = = C0
V K + 3 V0 K +3

2.14 COMBINATION OF CAPACITORS


We can combine several capacitors of capacitance C1, C2,…, Cn to obtain
a system with some effective capacitance C. The effective capacitance
depends on the way the individual capacitors are combined. Two simple
possibilities are discussed below.

2.14.1 Capacitors in series


Figure 2.26 shows capacitors C1 and C2 combined in series.
The left plate of C1 and the right plate of C2 are connected to two
terminals of a battery and have charges Q and –Q ,
respectively. It then follows that the right plate of C1
has charge –Q and the left plate of C2 has charge Q.
If this was not so, the net charge on each capacitor
would not be zero. This would result in an electric
field in the conductor connecting C1and C2. Charge
would flow until the net charge on both C1 and C2
is zero and there is no electric field in the conductor
connecting C 1 and C 2 . Thus, in the series
combination, charges on the two plates (±Q) are the
same on each capacitor. The total potential drop V
across the combination is the sum of the potential
drops V1 and V2 across C1 and C2, respectively.
FIGURE 2.26 Combination of two Q Q
capacitors in series. V = V1 + V2 = + (2.55)
C1 C 2

V 1 1
i.e., Q = C + C , (2.56)
1 2

Now we can regard the combination as an


effective capacitor with charge Q and potential
difference V. The effective capacitance of the
combination is
Q
C= (2.57)
V
We compare Eq. (2.57) with Eq. (2.56), and
obtain
FIGURE 2.27 Combination of n
capacitors in series. 1 1 1
78 = + (2.58)
C C1 C2

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The proof clearly goes through for any number of
capacitors arranged in a similar way. Equation (2.55),
for n capacitors arranged in series, generalises to
Q Q Q
V = V1 + V2 + ... + Vn = + + ... + (2.59)
C1 C 2 Cn
Following the same steps as for the case of two
capacitors, we get the general formula for effective
capacitance of a series combination of n capacitors:
1 1 1 1 1
= + + + ... + (2.60)
C C1 C2 C3 Cn

2.14.2 Capacitors in parallel


Figure 2.28 (a) shows two capacitors arranged in
parallel. In this case, the same potential difference is
applied across both the capacitors. But the plate charges
(±Q1) on capacitor 1 and the plate charges (±Q2) on the
capacitor 2 are not necessarily the same:
Q1 = C1V, Q2 = C2V (2.61)
The equivalent capacitor is one with charge
Q = Q1 + Q2 (2.62)
and potential difference V.
Q = CV = C1V + C2V (2.63)
The effective capacitance C is, from Eq. (2.63),
C = C1 + C2 (2.64)
The general formula for effective capacitance C for
parallel combination of n capacitors [Fig. 2.28 (b)] FIGURE 2.28 Parallel combination of
follows similarly, (a) two capacitors, (b) n capacitors.
Q = Q1 + Q2 + ... + Qn (2.65)
i.e., CV = C1V + C2V + ... CnV (2.66)
which gives
C = C1 + C2 + ... Cn (2.67)
Example 2.9 A network of four 10 µF capacitors is connected to a 500 V
supply, as shown in Fig. 2.29. Determine (a) the equivalent capacitance
of the network and (b) the charge on each capacitor. (Note, the charge
on a capacitor is the charge on the plate with higher potential, equal
and opposite to the charge on the plate with lower potential.)
EXAMPLE 2.9

FIGURE 2.29 79

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Physics
Solution
(a) In the given network, C1, C2 and C3 are connected in series. The
effective capacitance C′ of these three capacitors is given by
1 1 1 1
= + +
C ′ C1 C2 C3
For C1 = C2 = C3 = 10 µF, C′ = (10/3) µF. The network has C′ and C4
connected in parallel. Thus, the equivalent capacitance C of the
network is
 10 
C = C′ + C4 =  + 10 µF =13.3µF
 3 
(b) Clearly, from the figure, the charge on each of the capacitors, C1,
C2 and C3 is the same, say Q. Let the charge on C4 be Q′. Now, since
the potential difference across AB is Q/C1, across BC is Q/C2, across
CD is Q/C3 , we have
Q Q Q
+ + = 500 V .
C1 C2 C3
Also, Q′/C4 = 500 V.
EXAMPLE 2.9

This gives for the given value of the capacitances,


10
Q = 500 V × µF = 1.7 × 10 −3 C and
3
Q ′ = 500 V × 10 µF = 5.0 × 10−3 C

2.15 ENERGY STORED IN A CAPACITOR


A capacitor, as we have seen above, is a system of two conductors with
charge Q and –Q. To determine the energy stored in this configuration,
consider initially two uncharged conductors 1 and 2. Imagine next a
process of transferring charge from conductor 2 to conductor 1 bit by
bit, so that at the end, conductor 1 gets charge Q. By
charge conservation, conductor 2 has charge –Q at
the end (Fig 2.30 ).
In transferring positive charge from conductor 2
to conductor 1, work will be done externally, since at
any stage conductor 1 is at a higher potential than
conductor 2. To calculate the total work done, we first
calculate the work done in a small step involving
transfer of an infinitesimal (i.e., vanishingly small)
amount of charge. Consider the intermediate situation
when the conductors 1 and 2 have charges Q′ and
–Q′ respectively. At this stage, the potential difference
FIGURE 2.30 (a) Work done in a small V′ between conductors 1 to 2 is Q′/C, where C is the
step of building charge on conductor 1 capacitance of the system. Next imagine that a small
from Q′ to Q′ + δ Q′. (b) Total work done charge δ Q′ is transferred from conductor 2 to 1. Work
in charging the capacitor may be done in this step (δ W′ ), resulting in charge Q ′ on
viewed as stored in the energy of
conductor 1 increasing to Q′+ δ Q′, is given by
electric field between the plates.
Q′
80 δ W = V ′δ Q ′ = δ Q′ (2.68)
C

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
Since δ Q′ can be made as small as we like, Eq. (2.68) can be written as
1
δW = [(Q ′ + δ Q ′ )2 − Q ′ 2 ] (2.69)
2C
Equations (2.68) and (2.69) are identical because the term of second
order in δ Q′, i.e., δ Q′ 2/2C, is negligible, since δ Q′ is arbitrarily small. The
total work done (W ) is the sum of the small work (δ W ) over the very large
number of steps involved in building the charge Q′ from zero to Q.

W = ∑ δW
sum over all steps

1
= ∑ 2C
[(Q ′ + δ Q ′ )2 − Q ′2 ] (2.70)
sum over all steps

1
= [{δ Q ′ 2 − 0} + {(2δ Q ′ )2 − δ Q ′ 2 } + {(3 δ Q ′ )2 − (2 δ Q ′ )2 } + ...
2C
+ {Q 2 − (Q − δ Q )2 }] (2.71)
1 Q2
= [Q 2 − 0] = (2.72)
2C 2C
The same result can be obtained directly from Eq. (2.68) by integration
Q Q
Q′ 1 Q ′2 Q2
W =∫ δQ’ = =
0
C C 2 0
2C
This is not surprising since integration is nothing but summation of
a large number of small terms.
We can write the final result, Eq. (2.72) in different ways
Q2 1 1
W = = CV 2 = QV (2.73)
2C 2 2
Since electrostatic force is conservative, this work is stored in the form
of potential energy of the system. For the same reason, the final result for
potential energy [Eq. (2.73)] is independent of the manner in which the
charge configuration of the capacitor is built up. When the capacitor
discharges, this stored-up energy is released. It is possible to view the
potential energy of the capacitor as ‘stored’ in the electric field between
the plates. To see this, consider for simplicity, a parallel plate capacitor
[of area A (of each plate) and separation d between the plates].
Energy stored in the capacitor
1 Q 2 ( Aσ )2 d
= = × (2.74)
2 C 2 ε0 A
The surface charge density σ is related to the electric field E between
the plates,
σ
E= (2.75)
ε0
From Eqs. (2.74) and (2.75) , we get
Energy stored in the capacitor
U = (1/ 2) ε 0 E 2 × A d (2.76) 81

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Note that Ad is the volume of the region between the plates (where
electric field alone exists). If we define energy density as energy stored
per unit volume of space, Eq (2.76) shows that
Energy density of electric field,
u =(1/2)ε0E 2 (2.77)
Though we derived Eq. (2.77) for the case of a parallel plate capacitor,
the result on energy density of an electric field is, in fact, very general and
holds true for electric field due to any configuration of charges.

Example 2.10 (a) A 900 pF capacitor is charged by 100 V battery


[Fig. 2.31(a)]. How much electrostatic energy is stored by the capacitor?
(b) The capacitor is disconnected from the battery and connected to
another 900 pF capacitor [Fig. 2.31(b)]. What is the electrostatic energy
stored by the system?

FIGURE 2.31

Solution
(a) The charge on the capacitor is
Q = CV = 900 × 10–12 F × 100 V = 9 × 10–8 C
The energy stored by the capacitor is
= (1/2) CV 2 = (1/2) QV
EXAMPLE 2.10

= (1/2) × 9 × 10–8C × 100 V = 4.5 × 10–6 J


(b) In the steady situation, the two capacitors have their positive
plates at the same potential, and their negative plates at the
same potential. Let the common potential difference be V′. The

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charge on each capacitor is then Q ′ = CV ′ . By charge


conservation, Q′ = Q/2. This implies V′ = V/2. The total energy
1 1
of the system is = 2 × Q ' V ' = QV = 2.25 × 10 −6 J
2 4
Thus in going from (a) to (b), though no charge is lost; the final
energy is only half the initial energy. Where has the remaining

EXAMPLE 2.10
energy gone?
There is a transient period before the system settles to the
situation (b). During this period, a transient current flows from
the first capacitor to the second. Energy is lost during this time
in the form of heat and electromagnetic radiation.

SUMMARY

1. Electrostatic force is a conservative force. Work done by an external


force (equal and opposite to the electrostatic force) in bringing a charge
q from a point R to a point P is VP – VR, which is the difference in
potential energy of charge q between the final and initial points.
2. Potential at a point is the work done per unit charge (by an external
agency) in bringing a charge from infinity to that point. Potential at a
point is arbitrary to within an additive constant, since it is the potential
difference between two points which is physically significant. If potential
at infinity is chosen to be zero; potential at a point with position vector
r due to a point charge Q placed at the origin is given is given by
1 Q
V (r) =
4 πε o r
3. The electrostatic potential at a point with position vector r due to a
point dipole of dipole moment p placed at the origin is
1 p.rˆ
V (r) =
4 πε o r 2
The result is true also for a dipole (with charges –q and q separated by
2a) for r >> a.

4. For a charge configuration q 1, q2 , ..., q n with position vectors r 1,


r2, ... rn, the potential at a point P is given by the superposition principle

1 q1 q 2 q
V = ( + + ... + n )
4 πε 0 r1P r2P rnP
where r1P is the distance between q1 and P, as and so on.
5. An equipotential surface is a surface over which potential has a constant
value. For a point charge, concentric spheres centred at a location of the
charge are equipotential surfaces. The electric field E at a point is
perpendicular to the equipotential surface through the point. E is in the
direction of the steepest decrease of potential.

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6. Potential energy stored in a system of charges is the work done (by an
external agency) in assembling the charges at their locations. Potential
energy of two charges q1, q2 at r1, r2 is given by

1 q1 q2
U =
4 πε 0 r12
where r12 is distance between q1 and q2.

7. The potential energy of a charge q in an external potential V(r) is qV(r).


The potential energy of a dipole moment p in a uniform electric field E is
–p.E.

8. Electrostatics field E is zero in the interior of a conductor; just outside


the surface of a charged conductor, E is normal to the surface given by
σ
E= ˆ where n̂ is the unit vector along the outward normal to the
n
ε0
surface and σ is the surface charge density. Charges in a conductor can
reside only at its surface. Potential is constant within and on the surface
of a conductor. In a cavity within a conductor (with no charges), the
electric field is zero.

9. A capacitor is a system of two conductors separated by an insulator. Its


capacitance is defined by C = Q/V, where Q and –Q are the charges on the
two conductors and V is the potential difference between them. C is
determined purely geometrically, by the shapes, sizes and relative
positions of the two conductors. The unit of capacitance is farad:,
1 F = 1 C V –1. For a parallel plate capacitor (with vacuum between the
plates),
A
C= ε0
d
where A is the area of each plate and d the separation between them.

10. If the medium between the plates of a capacitor is filled with an insulating
substance (dielectric), the electric field due to the charged plates induces
a net dipole moment in the dielectric. This effect, called polarisation,
gives rise to a field in the opposite direction. The net electric field inside
the dielectric and hence the potential difference between the plates is
thus reduced. Consequently, the capacitance C increases from its value
C0 when there is no medium (vacuum),

C = KC0

where K is the dielectric constant of the insulating substance.

11. For capacitors in the series combination, the total capacitance C is given by

1 1 1 1
= + + + ...
C C1 C2 C 3
In the parallel combination, the total capacitance C is:
C = C1 + C2 + C3 + ...

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where C1, C2, C3... are individual capacitances.

12. The energy U stored in a capacitor of capacitance C, with charge Q and


voltage V is

1 1 1 Q2
U = QV = CV 2 =
2 2 2 C
The electric energy density (energy per unit volume) in a region with
electric field is (1/2)ε0E2.

Physical quantity Symbol Dimensions Unit Remark

Potential or V [M1 L2 T–3 A–1] V Potential difference is


physically significant
Capacitance C [M–1 L–2 T–4 A2] F
Polarisation P [L–2 AT] C m-2 Dipole moment per unit
volume
Dielectric constant K [Dimensionless]

POINTS TO PONDER

1. Electrostatics deals with forces between charges at rest. But if there is a


force on a charge, how can it be at rest? Thus, when we are talking of
electrostatic force between charges, it should be understood that each
charge is being kept at rest by some unspecified force that opposes the
net Coulomb force on the charge.
2. A capacitor is so configured that it confines the electric field lines within
a small region of space. Thus, even though field may have considerable
strength, the potential difference between the two conductors of a
capacitor is small.
3. Electric field is discontinuous across the surface of a spherical charged
σ
shell. It is zero inside and ε0 n̂ outside. Electric potential is, however
continuous across the surface, equal to q/4πε0R at the surface.
4. The torque p × E on a dipole causes it to oscillate about E. Only if there
is a dissipative mechanism, the oscillations are damped and the dipole
eventually aligns with E.
5. Potential due to a charge q at its own location is not defined – it is
infinite.
6. In the expression qV (r) for potential energy of a charge q, V (r) is the
potential due to external charges and not the potential due to q. As seen
in point 5, this expression will be ill-defined if V (r) includes potential
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7. A cavity inside a conductor is shielded from outside electrical influences.
It is worth noting that electrostatic shielding does not work the other
way round; that is, if you put charges inside the cavity, the exterior of
the conductor is not shielded from the fields by the inside charges.

EXERCISES

2.1 Two charges 5 × 10–8 C and –3 × 10–8 C are located 16 cm apart. At


what point(s) on the line joining the two charges is the electric
potential zero? Take the potential at infinity to be zero.
2.2 A regular hexagon of side 10 cm has a charge 5 µC at each of its
vertices. Calculate the potential at the centre of the hexagon.
2.3 Two charges 2 µC and –2 µC are placed at points A and B 6 cm
apart.
(a) Identify an equipotential surface of the system.
(b) What is the direction of the electric field at every point on this
surface?
2.4 A spherical conductor of radius 12 cm has a charge of 1.6 × 10–7C
distributed uniformly on its surface. What is the electric field
(a) inside the sphere
(b) just outside the sphere
(c) at a point 18 cm from the centre of the sphere?
2.5 A parallel plate capacitor with air between the plates has a
capacitance of 8 pF (1pF = 10–12 F). What will be the capacitance if
the distance between the plates is reduced by half, and the space
between them is filled with a substance of dielectric constant 6?
2.6 Three capacitors each of capacitance 9 pF are connected in series.
(a) What is the total capacitance of the combination?
(b) What is the potential difference across each capacitor if the
combination is connected to a 120 V supply?
2.7 Three capacitors of capacitances 2 pF, 3 pF and 4 pF are connected
in parallel.
(a) What is the total capacitance of the combination?
(b) Determine the charge on each capacitor if the combination is
connected to a 100 V supply.
2.8 In a parallel plate capacitor with air between the plates, each plate
has an area of 6 × 10–3 m2 and the distance between the plates is 3 mm.
Calculate the capacitance of the capacitor. If this capacitor is
connected to a 100 V supply, what is the charge on each plate of the
capacitor?
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2.9 Explain what would happen if in the capacitor given in Exercise
2.8, a 3 mm thick mica sheet (of dielectric constant = 6) were inserted
between the plates,
(a) while the voltage supply remained connected.
(b) after the supply was disconnected.
2.10 A 12pF capacitor is connected to a 50V battery. How much
electrostatic energy is stored in the capacitor?
2.11 A 600pF capacitor is charged by a 200V supply. It is then
disconnected from the supply and is connected to another
uncharged 600 pF capacitor. How much electrostatic energy is lost
in the process?

ADDITIONAL EXERCISES
2.12 A charge of 8 mC is located at the origin. Calculate the work done in
taking a small charge of –2 × 10–9 C from a point P (0, 0, 3 cm) to a
point Q (0, 4 cm, 0), via a point R (0, 6 cm, 9 cm).
2.13 A cube of side b has a charge q at each of its vertices. Determine the
potential and electric field due to this charge array at the centre of
the cube.
2.14 Two tiny spheres carrying charges 1.5 µC and 2.5 µC are located 30 cm
apart. Find the potential and electric field:
(a) at the mid-point of the line joining the two charges, and
(b) at a point 10 cm from this midpoint in a plane normal to the
line and passing through the mid-point.
2.15 A spherical conducting shell of inner radius r1 and outer radius r2
has a charge Q.
(a) A charge q is placed at the centre of the shell. What is the
surface charge density on the inner and outer surfaces of the
shell?
(b) Is the electric field inside a cavity (with no charge) zero, even if
the shell is not spherical, but has any irregular shape? Explain.
2.16 (a) Show that the normal component of electrostatic field has a
discontinuity from one side of a charged surface to another
given by
σ
ˆ=
(E2 − E1 ) • n
ε0
where n̂ is a unit vector normal to the surface at a point and
σ is the surface charge density at that point. (The direction of
n̂ is from side 1 to side 2.) Hence, show that just outside a
conductor, the electric field is σ n̂ /ε0.

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(b) Show that the tangential component of electrostatic field is
continuous from one side of a charged surface to another.
[Hint: For (a), use Gauss’s law. For, (b) use the fact that work
done by electrostatic field on a closed loop is zero.]
2.17 A long charged cylinder of linear charged density λ is surrounded
by a hollow co-axial conducting cylinder. What is the electric field in
the space between the two cylinders?
2.18 In a hydrogen atom, the electron and proton are bound at a distance
of about 0.53 Å:
(a) Estimate the potential energy of the system in eV, taking the
zero of the potential energy at infinite separation of the electron
from proton.
(b) What is the minimum work required to free the electron, given
that its kinetic energy in the orbit is half the magnitude of
potential energy obtained in (a)?
(c) What are the answers to (a) and (b) above if the zero of potential
energy is taken at 1.06 Å separation?
2.19 If one of the two electrons of a H2 molecule is removed, we get a
hydrogen molecular ion H+2. In the ground state of an H+2, the two
protons are separated by roughly 1.5 Å, and the electron is roughly
1 Å from each proton. Determine the potential energy of the system.
Specify your choice of the zero of potential energy.
2.20 Two charged conducting spheres of radii a and b are connected to
each other by a wire. What is the ratio of electric fields at the surfaces
of the two spheres? Use the result obtained to explain why charge
density on the sharp and pointed ends of a conductor is higher
than on its flatter portions.
2.21 Two charges –q and +q are located at points (0, 0, –a) and (0, 0, a),
respectively.
(a) What is the electrostatic potential at the points (0, 0, z) and
(x, y, 0) ?
(b) Obtain the dependence of potential on the distance r of a point
from the origin when r/a >> 1.
(c) How much work is done in moving a small test charge from the
point (5,0,0) to (–7,0,0) along the x-axis? Does the answer
change if the path of the test charge between the same points
is not along the x-axis?
2.22 Figure 2.32 shows a charge array known as an electric quadrupole.
For a point on the axis of the quadrupole, obtain the dependence
of potential on r for r/a >> 1, and contrast your results with that
due to an electric dipole, and an electric monopole (i.e., a single
charge).

88
FIGURE 2.32

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
2.23 An electrical technician requires a capacitance of 2 µF in a circuit
across a potential difference of 1 kV. A large number of 1 µF capacitors
are available to him each of which can withstand a potential
difference of not more than 400 V. Suggest a possible arrangement
that requires the minimum number of capacitors.
2.24 What is the area of the plates of a 2 F parallel plate capacitor, given
that the separation between the plates is 0.5 cm? [You will realise
from your answer why ordinary capacitors are in the range of µF or
less. However, electrolytic capacitors do have a much larger
capacitance (0.1 F) because of very minute separation between the
conductors.]
2.25 Obtain the equivalent capacitance of the network in Fig. 2.33. For a
300 V supply, determine the charge and voltage across each
capacitor.

FIGURE 2.33

2.26 The plates of a parallel plate capacitor have an area of 90 cm2 each
and are separated by 2.5 mm. The capacitor is charged by
connecting it to a 400 V supply.
(a) How much electrostatic energy is stored by the capacitor?
(b) View this energy as stored in the electrostatic field between
the plates, and obtain the energy per unit volume u. Hence
arrive at a relation between u and the magnitude of electric
field E between the plates.
2.27 A 4 µF capacitor is charged by a 200 V supply. It is then disconnected
from the supply, and is connected to another uncharged 2 µF
capacitor. How much electrostatic energy of the first capacitor is
lost in the form of heat and electromagnetic radiation?
2.28 Show that the force on each plate of a parallel plate capacitor has a
magnitude equal to (½) QE, where Q is the charge on the capacitor,
and E is the magnitude of electric field between the plates. Explain
the origin of the factor ½.
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2.29 A spherical capacitor consists of two concentric spherical conductors,
held in position by suitable insulating supports (Fig. 2.34). Show
that the capacitance of a spherical capacitor is given by
4 πε 0 r1r2
C=
r1 – r2

FIGURE 2.34

where r 1 and r 2 are the radii of outer and inner spheres,


respectively.
2.30 A spherical capacitor has an inner sphere of radius 12 cm and an
outer sphere of radius 13 cm. The outer sphere is earthed and the
inner sphere is given a charge of 2.5 µC. The space between the
concentric spheres is filled with a liquid of dielectric constant 32.
(a) Determine the capacitance of the capacitor.
(b) What is the potential of the inner sphere?
(c) Compare the capacitance of this capacitor with that of an
isolated sphere of radius 12 cm. Explain why the latter is much
smaller.
2.31 Answer carefully:
(a) Two large conducting spheres carrying charges Q1 and Q2 are
brought close to each other. Is the magnitude of electrostatic
force between them exactly given by Q1 Q2/4πε0r 2, where r is
the distance between their centres?
(b) If Coulomb’s law involved 1/r 3 dependence (instead of 1/r 2),
would Gauss’s law be still true ?
(c) A small test charge is released at rest at a point in an
electrostatic field configuration. Will it travel along the field
line passing through that point?
(d) What is the work done by the field of a nucleus in a complete
circular orbit of the electron? What if the orbit is elliptical?

90

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Electrostatic Potential
and Capacitance
(e) We know that electric field is discontinuous across the surface
of a charged conductor. Is electric potential also discontinuous
there?
(f ) What meaning would you give to the capacitance of a single
conductor?
(g) Guess a possible reason why water has a much greater
dielectric constant (= 80) than say, mica (= 6).
2.32 A cylindrical capacitor has two co-axial cylinders of length 15 cm
and radii 1.5 cm and 1.4 cm. The outer cylinder is earthed and the
inner cylinder is given a charge of 3.5 µC. Determine the capacitance
of the system and the potential of the inner cylinder. Neglect end
effects (i.e., bending of field lines at the ends).
2.33 A parallel plate capacitor is to be designed with a voltage rating
1 kV, using a material of dielectric constant 3 and dielectric strength
about 107 Vm–1. (Dielectric strength is the maximum electric field a
material can tolerate without breakdown, i.e., without starting to
conduct electricity through partial ionisation.) For safety, we should
like the field never to exceed, say 10% of the dielectric strength.
What minimum area of the plates is required to have a capacitance
of 50 pF?
2.34 Describe schematically the equipotential surfaces corresponding to
(a) a constant electric field in the z-direction,
(b) a field that uniformly increases in magnitude but remains in a
constant (say, z) direction,
(c) a single positive charge at the origin, and
(d) a uniform grid consisting of long equally spaced parallel charged
wires in a plane.
2.35 A small sphere of radius r1 and charge q1 is enclosed by a spherical
shell of radius r2 and charge q2. Show that if q1 is positive, charge
will necessarily flow from the sphere to the shell (when the two are
connected by a wire) no matter what the charge q2 on the shell is.
2.36 Answer the following:
(a) The top of the atmosphere is at about 400 kV with respect to
the surface of the earth, corresponding to an electric field that
decreases with altitude. Near the surface of the earth, the field
is about 100 Vm–1. Why then do we not get an electric shock as
we step out of our house into the open? (Assume the house to
be a steel cage so there is no field inside!)
(b) A man fixes outside his house one evening a two metre high
insulating slab carrying on its top a large aluminium sheet of
area 1m2. Will he get an electric shock if he touches the metal
sheet next morning?
(c) The discharging current in the atmosphere due to the small
conductivity of air is known to be 1800 A on an average over

91

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the globe. Why then does the atmosphere not discharge itself
completely in due course and become electrically neutral? In
other words, what keeps the atmosphere charged?
(d) What are the forms of energy into which the electrical energy
of the atmosphere is dissipated during a lightning?
(Hint: The earth has an electric field of about 100 Vm–1 at its
surface in the downward direction, corresponding to a surface
charge density = –10–9 C m–2. Due to the slight conductivity of
the atmosphere up to about 50 km (beyond which it is good
conductor), about + 1800 C is pumped every second into the
earth as a whole. The earth, however, does not get discharged
since thunderstorms and lightning occurring continually all
over the globe pump an equal amount of negative charge on
the earth.)

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Chapter Three

CURRENT
ELECTRICITY

3.1 INTRODUCTION
In Chapter 1, all charges whether free or bound, were considered to be at
rest. Charges in motion constitute an electric current. Such currents occur
naturally in many situations. Lightning is one such phenomenon in
which charges flow from the clouds to the earth through the atmosphere,
sometimes with disastrous results. The flow of charges in lightning is not
steady, but in our everyday life we see many devices where charges flow
in a steady manner, like water flowing smoothly in a river. A torch and a
cell-driven clock are examples of such devices. In the present chapter, we
shall study some of the basic laws concerning steady electric currents.

3.2 ELECTRIC CURRENT


Imagine a small area held normal to the direction of flow of charges. Both
the positive and the negative charges may flow forward and backward
across the area. In a given time interval t, let q+ be the net amount (i.e.,
forward minus backward) of positive charge that flows in the forward
direction across the area. Similarly, let q – be the net amount of negative
charge flowing across the area in the forward direction. The net amount
of charge flowing across the area in the forward direction in the time
interval t, then, is q = q+– q –. This is proportional to t for steady current

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Physics
and the quotient
q
I= (3.1)
t
is defined to be the current across the area in the forward direction. (If it
turn out to be a negative number, it implies a current in the backward
direction.)
Currents are not always steady and hence more generally, we define
the current as follows. Let ∆Q be the net charge flowing across a cross-
section of a conductor during the time interval ∆t [i.e., between times t
and (t + ∆t)]. Then, the current at time t across the cross-section of the
conductor is defined as the value of the ratio of ∆Q to ∆t in the limit of ∆t
tending to zero,
∆Q
I (t ) ≡ lim (3.2)
∆t
∆t → 0

In SI units, the unit of current is ampere. An ampere is defined


through magnetic effects of currents that we will study in the following
chapter. An ampere is typically the order of magnitude of currents in
domestic appliances. An average lightning carries currents of the order
of tens of thousands of amperes and at the other extreme, currents in
our nerves are in microamperes.

3.3 ELECTRIC CURRENTS IN CONDUCTORS


An electric charge will experience a force if an electric field is applied. If it is
free to move, it will thus move contributing to a current. In nature, free
charged particles do exist like in upper strata of atmosphere called the
ionosphere. However, in atoms and molecules, the negatively charged
electrons and the positively charged nuclei are bound to each other and
are thus not free to move. Bulk matter is made up of many molecules, a
gram of water, for example, contains approximately 1022 molecules. These
molecules are so closely packed that the electrons are no longer attached
to individual nuclei. In some materials, the electrons will still be bound,
i.e., they will not accelerate even if an electric field is applied. In other
materials, notably metals, some of the electrons are practically free to move
within the bulk material. These materials, generally called conductors,
develop electric currents in them when an electric field is applied.
If we consider solid conductors, then of course the atoms are tightly
bound to each other so that the current is carried by the negatively
charged electrons. There are, however, other types of conductors like
electrolytic solutions where positive and negative charges both can move.
In our discussions, we will focus only on solid conductors so that the
current is carried by the negatively charged electrons in the background
of fixed positive ions.
Consider first the case when no electric field is present. The electrons
will be moving due to thermal motion during which they collide with the
fixed ions. An electron colliding with an ion emerges with the same speed
as before the collision. However, the direction of its velocity after the
collision is completely random. At a given time, there is no preferential
94 direction for the velocities of the electrons. Thus on the average, the

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Current
Electricity
number of electrons travelling in any direction will be equal to the number
of electrons travelling in the opposite direction. So, there will be no net
electric current.
Let us now see what happens to such a
piece of conductor if an electric field is applied.
To focus our thoughts, imagine the conductor
in the shape of a cylinder of radius R (Fig. 3.1).
Suppose we now take two thin circular discs FIGURE 3.1 Charges +Q and –Q put at the ends
of a dielectric of the same radius and put of a metallic cylinder. The electrons will drift
positive charge +Q distributed over one disc because of the electric field created to
and similarly –Q at the other disc. We attach neutralise the charges. The current thus
the two discs on the two flat surfaces of the will stop after a while unless the charges +Q
cylinder. An electric field will be created and and –Q are continuously replenished.
is directed from the positive towards the
negative charge. The electrons will be accelerated due to this field towards
+Q. They will thus move to neutralise the charges. The electrons, as long
as they are moving, will constitute an electric current. Hence in the
situation considered, there will be a current for a very short while and no
current thereafter.
We can also imagine a mechanism where the ends of the cylinder are
supplied with fresh charges to make up for any charges neutralised by
electrons moving inside the conductor. In that case, there will be a steady
electric field in the body of the conductor. This will result in a continuous
current rather than a current for a short period of time. Mechanisms,
which maintain a steady electric field are cells or batteries that we shall
study later in this chapter. In the next sections, we shall study the steady
current that results from a steady electric field in conductors.

3.4 OHM’S LAW


A basic law regarding flow of currents was discovered by G.S. Ohm in
1828, long before the physical mechanism responsible for flow of currents
was discovered. Imagine a conductor through which a current I is flowing
and let V be the potential difference between the ends of the conductor.
Then Ohm’s law states that
V∝I
or, V = R I (3.3)
where the constant of proportionality R is called the resistance of the
conductor. The SI units of resistance is ohm, and is denoted by the symbol
Ω. The resistance R not only depends on the material of the conductor
but also on the dimensions of the conductor. The dependence of R on the
dimensions of the conductor can easily be determined as follows. FIGURE 3.2
Consider a conductor satisfying Eq. (3.3) to be in the form of a slab of Illustrating the
length l and cross sectional area A [Fig. 3.2(a)]. Imagine placing two such relation R = ρl/A for
identical slabs side by side [Fig. 3.2(b)], so that the length of the a rectangular slab
of length l and area
combination is 2l. The current flowing through the combination is the
of cross-section A.
same as that flowing through either of the slabs. If V is the potential
difference across the ends of the first slab, then V is also the potential
difference across the ends of the second slab since the second slab is 95

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identical to the first and the same current I flows through
both. The potential difference across the ends of the
combination is clearly sum of the potential difference
across the two individual slabs and hence equals 2V. The
current through the combination is I and the resistance
GEORG SIMON OHM (1787–1854)

of the combination RC is [from Eq. (3.3)],


2V
RC = =2R (3.4)
I
since V/I = R, the resistance of either of the slabs. Thus,
doubling the length of a conductor doubles the
resistance. In general, then resistance is proportional to
length,
R ∝l (3.5)
Georg Simon Ohm (1787– Next, imagine dividing the slab into two by cutting it
1854) German physicist, lengthwise so that the slab can be considered as a
professor at Munich. Ohm combination of two identical slabs of length l , but each
was led to his law by an
having a cross sectional area of A/2 [Fig. 3.2(c)].
analogy between the
For a given voltage V across the slab, if I is the current
conduction of heat: the
electric field is analogous to through the entire slab, then clearly the current flowing
the temperature gradient, through each of the two half-slabs is I/2. Since the
and the electric current is potential difference across the ends of the half-slabs is V,
analogous to the heat flow. i.e., the same as across the full slab, the resistance of each
of the half-slabs R1 is
V V
R1 = = 2 = 2R. (3.6)
( I /2) I
Thus, halving the area of the cross-section of a conductor doubles
the resistance. In general, then the resistance R is inversely proportional
to the cross-sectional area,
1
R ∝ (3.7)
A
Combining Eqs. (3.5) and (3.7), we have
l
R ∝ (3.8)
A
and hence for a given conductor
l
R=ρ (3.9)
A
where the constant of proportionality ρ depends on the material of the
conductor but not on its dimensions. ρ is called resistivity.
Using the last equation, Ohm’s law reads
I ρl
V =I ×R= (3.10)
A
Current per unit area (taken normal to the current), I/A, is called
current density and is denoted by j. The SI units of the current density
are A/m2. Further, if E is the magnitude of uniform electric field in the
conductor whose length is l, then the potential difference V across its
96 ends is El. Using these, the last equation reads

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Current
Electricity
El=jρl
or, E = j ρ (3.11)
The above relation for magnitudes E and j can indeed be cast in a
vector form. The current density, (which we have defined as the current
through unit area normal to the current) is also directed along E, and is
≡ j E/E). Thus, the last equation can be written as,
also a vector j (≡
E = jρ (3.12)
or, j = σ E (3.13)
where σ ≡1/ρ is called the conductivity. Ohm’s law is often stated in an
equivalent form, Eq. (3.13) in addition to Eq.(3.3). In the next section, we
will try to understand the origin of the Ohm’s law as arising from the
characteristics of the drift of electrons.

3.5 D R I F T O F E L E C T R O N S AND THE ORIGIN


OF RESISTIVITY
As remarked before, an electron will suffer collisions with the heavy fixed
ions, but after collision, it will emerge with the same speed but in random
directions. If we consider all the electrons, their average velocity will be
zero since their directions are random. Thus, if there are N electrons and
the velocity of the ith electron (i = 1, 2, 3, ... N ) at a given time is vi , then
N
1
N
∑v i =0 (3.14)
i =1

Consider now the situation when an electric field is


present. Electrons will be accelerated due to this
field by
–e E
a = (3.15)
m
where –e is the charge and m is the mass of an electron.
Consider again the ith electron at a given time t. This
electron would have had its last collision some time
before t, and let ti be the time elapsed after its last
collision. If vi was its velocity immediately after the last
collision, then its velocity Vi at time t is
−eE
Vi = vi + ti (3.16)
m
FIGURE 3.3 A schematic picture of
since starting with its last collision it was accelerated
an electron moving from a point A to
(Fig. 3.3) with an acceleration given by Eq. (3.15) for a another point B through repeated
time interval ti . The average velocity of the electrons at collisions, and straight line travel
time t is the average of all the Vi’s. The average of vi’s is between collisions (full lines). If an
zero [Eq. (3.14)] since immediately after any collision, electric field is applied as shown, the
the direction of the velocity of an electron is completely electron ends up at point B′ (dotted
random. The collisions of the electrons do not occur at lines). A slight drift in a direction
regular intervals but at random times. Let us denote by opposite the electric field is visible.
τ, the average time between successive collisions. Then
at a given time, some of the electrons would have spent 97

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Physics
time more than τ and some less than τ. In other words, the time ti in
Eq. (3.16) will be less than τ for some and more than τ for others as we go
through the values of i = 1, 2 ..... N. The average value of ti then is τ
(known as relaxation time). Thus, averaging Eq. (3.16) over the
N-electrons at any given time t gives us for the average velocity vd
eE
v d ≡ ( Vi )average = (v i )average − (t i )average
m
eE eE
=0– τ =− τ (3.17)
m m
This last result is surprising. It tells us that the
electrons move with an average velocity which is
independent of time, although electrons are
accelerated. This is the phenomenon of drift and the
velocity vd in Eq. (3.17) is called the drift velocity.
Because of the drift, there will be net transport of
charges across any area perpendicular to E. Consider
a planar area A, located inside the conductor such that
FIGURE 3.4 Current in a metallic the normal to the area is parallel to E (Fig. 3.4). Then
conductor. The magnitude of current because of the drift, in an infinitesimal amount of time
density in a metal is the magnitude of ∆t, all electrons to the left of the area at distances upto
charge contained in a cylinder of unit |vd|∆t would have crossed the area. If n is the number
area and length vd. of free electrons per unit volume in the metal, then
there are n ∆t |vd|A such electrons. Since each
electron carries a charge –e, the total charge transported across this area
A to the right in time ∆t is –ne A|vd|∆t. E is directed towards the left and
hence the total charge transported along E across the area is negative of
this. The amount of charge crossing the area A in time ∆t is by definition
[Eq. (3.2)] I ∆t, where I is the magnitude of the current. Hence,

I ∆t = + n e A v d ∆t (3.18)
Substituting the value of |vd| from Eq. (3.17)
e2 A
I ∆t = τ n ∆t E (3.19)
m
By definition I is related to the magnitude |j| of the current density by
I = |j|A (3.20)
Hence, from Eqs.(3.19) and (3.20),
ne 2
j= τE (3.21)
m
The vector j is parallel to E and hence we can write Eq. (3.21) in the
vector form
ne 2
j= τE (3.22)
m
Comparison with Eq. (3.13) shows that Eq. (3.22) is exactly the Ohm’s
98 law, if we identify the conductivity σ as

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Current
Electricity

ne 2
σ = τ (3.23)
m
We thus see that a very simple picture of electrical conduction
reproduces Ohm’s law. We have, of course, made assumptions that τ
and n are constants, independent of E. We shall, in the next section,
discuss the limitations of Ohm’s law.

Example 3.1 (a) Estimate the average drift speed of conduction


electrons in a copper wire of cross-sectional area 1.0 × 10–7 m2 carrying
a current of 1.5 A. Assume that each copper atom contributes roughly
one conduction electron. The density of copper is 9.0 × 103 kg/m3,
and its atomic mass is 63.5 u. (b) Compare the drift speed obtained
above with, (i) thermal speeds of copper atoms at ordinary
temperatures, (ii) speed of propagation of electric field along the
conductor which causes the drift motion.
Solution
(a) The direction of drift velocity of conduction electrons is opposite
to the electric field direction, i.e., electrons drift in the direction
of increasing potential. The drift speed vd is given by Eq. (3.18)
vd = (I/neA)
Now, e = 1.6 × 10–19 C, A = 1.0 × 10–7m2, I = 1.5 A. The density of
conduction electrons, n is equal to the number of atoms per cubic
metre (assuming one conduction electron per Cu atom as is
reasonable from its valence electron count of one). A cubic metre
of copper has a mass of 9.0 × 103 kg. Since 6.0 × 1023 copper
atoms have a mass of 63.5 g,
6.0 × 1023
n= × 9.0 × 106
63.5
= 8.5 × 1028 m–3
which gives,
1.5
vd =
8.5 × 1028 × 1.6 × 10 –19 × 1.0 × 10 –7
= 1.1 × 10–3 m s–1 = 1.1 mm s–1
(b) (i) At a temperature T, the thermal speed* of a copper atom of
mass M is obtained from [<(1/2) Mv2 > = (3/2) kBT ] and is thus
typically of the order of k B T/M , where k B is the Boltzmann
constant. For copper at 300 K, this is about 2 × 102 m/s. This
figure indicates the random vibrational speeds of copper atoms
in a conductor. Note that the drift speed of electrons is much
smaller, about 10–5 times the typical thermal speed at ordinary
EXAMPLE 3.1

temperatures.
(ii) An electric field travelling along the conductor has a speed of
an electromagnetic wave, namely equal to 3.0 × 10 8 m s –1
(You will learn about this in Chapter 8). The drift speed is, in
comparison, extremely small; smaller by a factor of 10–11.

* See Eq. (13.23) of Chapter 13 from Class XI book. 99

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Example 3.2
(a) In Example 3.1, the electron drift speed is estimated to be only a
few mm s–1 for currents in the range of a few amperes? How then
is current established almost the instant a circuit is closed?
(b) The electron drift arises due to the force experienced by electrons
in the electric field inside the conductor. But force should cause
acceleration. Why then do the electrons acquire a steady average
drift speed?
(c) If the electron drift speed is so small, and the electron’s charge is
small, how can we still obtain large amounts of current in a
conductor?
(d) When electrons drift in a metal from lower to higher potential,
does it mean that all the ‘free’ electrons of the metal are moving
in the same direction?
(e) Are the paths of electrons straight lines between successive
collisions (with the positive ions of the metal) in the (i) absence of
electric field, (ii) presence of electric field?
Solution
(a) Electric field is established throughout the circuit, almost instantly
(with the speed of light) causing at every point a local electron
drift. Establishment of a current does not have to wait for electrons
from one end of the conductor travelling to the other end. However,
it does take a little while for the current to reach its steady value.
(b) Each ‘free’ electron does accelerate, increasing its drift speed until
it collides with a positive ion of the metal. It loses its drift speed
after collision but starts to accelerate and increases its drift speed
again only to suffer a collision again and so on. On the average,
therefore, electrons acquire only a drift speed.
(c) Simple, because the electron number density is enormous,
EXAMPLE 3.2

~1029 m–3.
(d) By no means. The drift velocity is superposed over the large
random velocities of electrons.
(e) In the absence of electric field, the paths are straight lines; in the
presence of electric field, the paths are, in general, curved.

3.5.1 Mobility
As we have seen, conductivity arises from mobile charge carriers. In
metals, these mobile charge carriers are electrons; in an ionised gas, they
are electrons and positive charged ions; in an electrolyte, these can be
both positive and negative ions.
An important quantity is the mobility µ defined as the magnitude of
the drift velocity per unit electric field:

| vd |
µ= (3.24)
E
The SI unit of mobility is m2/Vs and is 104 of the mobility in practical
units (cm2/Vs). Mobility is positive. From Eq. (3.17), we have
e τE
100 vd =
m

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Electricity
Hence,
vd e τ
µ= = (3.25)
E m
where τ is the average collision time for electrons.

3.6 LIMITATIONS OF OHM’S LAW


Although Ohm’s law has been found valid over a large class
of materials, there do exist materials and devices used in
electric circuits where the proportionality of V and I does not
hold. The deviations broadly are one or more of the following
FIGURE 3.5 The dashed line
types:
represents the linear Ohm’s
(a) V ceases to be proportional to I (Fig. 3.5). law. The solid line is the voltage
(b) The relation between V and I depends on the sign of V. In V versus current I for a good
other words, if I is the current for a certain V, then reversing conductor.
the direction of V keeping its magnitude fixed, does not
produce a current of the same magnitude as I in the opposite direction
(Fig. 3.6). This happens, for example, in a diode which we will study
in Chapter 14.

FIGURE 3.6 Characteristic curve FIGURE 3.7 Variation of current


of a diode. Note the different versus voltage for GaAs.
scales for negative and positive
values of the voltage and current.

(c) The relation between V and I is not unique, i.e., there is more than
one value of V for the same current I (Fig. 3.7). A material exhibiting
such behaviour is GaAs.
Materials and devices not obeying Ohm’s law in the form of Eq. (3.3)
are actually widely used in electronic circuits. In this and a few
subsequent chapters, however, we will study the electrical currents in
materials that obey Ohm’s law.

3.7 RESISTIVITY OF VARIOUS MATERIALS


The resistivities of various common materials are listed in Table 3.1. The
materials are classified as conductors, semiconductors and insulators 101

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depending on their resistivities, in an increasing order of their values.
Metals have low resistivities in the range of 10–8 Ωm to 10–6 Ωm. At the
other end are insulators like ceramic, rubber and plastics having
resistivities 1018 times greater than metals or more. In between the two
are the semiconductors. These, however, have resistivities
characteristically decreasing with a rise in temperature. The resistivities
of semiconductors are also affected by presence of small amount of
impurities. This last feature is exploited in use of semiconductors for
electronic devices.

TABLE 3.1 RESISTIVITIES OF SOME MATERIALS

Material Resistivity, ρ Temperature coefficient


(Ω m) at 0°C of resistivity, α (°C) –1
1 dρ
at 0°C
ρ dT

Conductors
Silver 1.6 × 10–8 0.0041
Copper 1.7 × 10–8 0.0068
Aluminium 2.7 × 10–8 0.0043
Tungsten 5.6 × 10–8 0.0045
Iron 10 × 10–8 0.0065
Platinum 11 × 10–8 0.0039
Mercury 98 × 10–8 0.0009
Nichrome ~100 × 10–8 0.0004
(alloy of Ni, Fe, Cr)
Manganin (alloy) 48 × 10–8 0.002 × 10–3
Semiconductors
Carbon (graphite) 3.5 × 10–5 – 0.0005
Germanium 0.46 – 0.05
Silicon 2300 – 0.07
Insulators
Pure Water 2.5 × 105
Glass 1010 – 1014
Hard Rubber 1013 – 1016
NaCl ~1014
Fused Quartz ~1016

Commercially produced resistors for domestic use or in laboratories


are of two major types: wire bound resistors and carbon resistors. Wire
bound resistors are made by winding the wires of an alloy, viz., manganin,
constantan, nichrome or similar ones. The choice of these materials is
dictated mostly by the fact that their resistivities are relatively insensitive
to temperature. These resistances are typically in the range of a fraction
102 of an ohm to a few hundred ohms.

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Resistors in the higher range are made mostly from carbon. Carbon
resistors are compact, inexpensive and thus find extensive use in electronic
circuits. Carbon resistors are small in size and hence their values are
given using a colour code.

TABLE 3.2 RESISTOR COLOUR CODES

Colour Number Multiplier Tolerance (%)

Black 0 1
Brown 1 10 1
Red 2 10 2
Orange 3 10 3
Yellow 4 10 4
Green 5 10 5
Blue 6 10 6
Violet 7 10 7
Gray 8 10 8
White 9 10 9
Gold 10–1 5
Silver 10–2 10
No colour 20

The resistors have a set of co-axial coloured rings


on them whose significance are listed in Table 3.2. The
first two bands from the end indicate the first two
significant figures of the resistance in ohms. The third
band indicates the decimal multiplier (as listed in Table
3.2). The last band stands for tolerance or possible
variation in percentage about the indicated values.
Sometimes, this last band is absent and that indicates
a tolerance of 20% (Fig. 3.8). For example, if the four
colours are orange, blue, yellow and gold, the resistance
value is 36 × 104 Ω, with a tolerence value of 5%.

3.8 T EMPERATURE D EPENDENCE OF


RESISTIVITY
The resistivity of a material is found to be dependent on
the temperature. Different materials do not exhibit the
same dependence on temperatures. Over a limited range FIGURE 3.8 Colour coded resistors
(a) (22 × 102 Ω) ± 10%,
of temperatures, that is not too large, the resistivity of a
(b) (47 × 10 Ω) ± 5%.
metallic conductor is approximately given by,
ρT = ρ0 [1 + α (T–T0)] (3.26)
where ρT is the resistivity at a temperature T and ρ0 is the same at a
reference temperature T0. α is called the temperature co-efficient of
resistivity, and from Eq. (3.26), the dimension of α is (Temperature)–1. 103

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For metals, α is positive and values of α for some metals at T0 = 0°C are
listed in Table 3.1.
The relation of Eq. (3.26) implies that a graph of ρT plotted against T
would be a straight line. At temperatures much lower than 0°C, the graph,
however, deviates considerably from a straight line (Fig. 3.9).
Equation (3.26) thus, can be used approximately over a limited range
of T around any reference temperature T0, where the graph can be
approximated as a straight line.

FIGURE 3.9 FIGURE 3.10 Resistivity FIGURE 3.11


Resistivity ρT of ρT of nichrome as a Temperature dependence
copper as a function function of absolute of resistivity for a typical
of temperature T. temperature T. semiconductor.

Some materials like Nichrome (which is an alloy of nickel, iron and


chromium) exhibit a very weak dependence of resistivity with temperature
(Fig. 3.10). Manganin and constantan have similar properties. These
materials are thus widely used in wire bound standard resistors since
their resistance values would change very little with temperatures.
Unlike metals, the resistivities of semiconductors decrease with
increasing temperatures. A typical dependence is shown in Fig. 3.11.
We can qualitatively understand the temperature dependence of
resistivity, in the light of our derivation of Eq. (3.23). From this equation,
resistivity of a material is given by
1 m
ρ= = (3.27)
σ n e 2τ
ρ thus depends inversely both on the number n of free electrons per unit
volume and on the average time τ between collisions. As we increase
temperature, average speed of the electrons, which act as the carriers of
current, increases resulting in more frequent collisions. The average time
of collisions τ, thus decreases with temperature.
In a metal, n is not dependent on temperature to any appreciable
extent and thus the decrease in the value of τ with rise in temperature
causes ρ to increase as we have observed.
For insulators and semiconductors, however, n increases with
temperature. This increase more than compensates any decrease in τ in
104 Eq.(3.23) so that for such materials, ρ decreases with temperature.

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Example 3.3 An electric toaster uses nichrome for its heating


element. When a negligibly small current passes through it, its
resistance at room temperature (27.0 °C) is found to be 75.3 Ω. When
the toaster is connected to a 230 V supply, the current settles, after
a few seconds, to a steady value of 2.68 A. What is the steady
temperature of the nichrome element? The temperature coefficient
of resistance of nichrome averaged over the temperature range
involved, is 1.70 × 10–4 °C–1.
Solution When the current through the element is very small, heating
effects can be ignored and the temperature T1 of the element is the
same as room temperature. When the toaster is connected to the
supply, its initial current will be slightly higher than its steady value
of 2.68 A. But due to heating effect of the current, the temperature
will rise. This will cause an increase in resistance and a slight
decrease in current. In a few seconds, a steady state will be reached
when temperature will rise no further, and both the resistance of the
element and the current drawn will achieve steady values. The
resistance R2 at the steady temperature T2 is
230 V
R2 = = 85.8 Ω
2.68 A
Using the relation
R2 = R1 [1 + α (T2 – T1)]
with α = 1.70 × 10–4 °C–1, we get
(85.8 – 75.3)
T2 – T1 = = 820 °C
EXAMPLE 3.3
(75.3) × 1.70 × 10 –4
that is, T2 = (820 + 27.0) °C = 847 °C
Thus, the steady temperature of the heating element (when heating
effect due to the current equals heat loss to the surroundings) is
847 °C.

Example 3.4 The resistance of the platinum wire of a platinum


resistance thermometer at the ice point is 5 Ω and at steam point is
5.39 Ω. When the thermometer is inserted in a hot bath, the resistance
of the platinum wire is 5.795 Ω. Calculate the temperature of the
bath.
Solution R0 = 5 Ω, R100 = 5.23 Ω and Rt = 5.795 Ω
Rt − R 0
Now, t= × 100, Rt = R0 (1 + α t )
R100 − R 0
EXAMPLE 3.4

5.795 − 5
= × 100
5.23 − 5

0.795
= × 100 = 345.65 °C
0.23

3.9 ELECTRICAL ENERGY, POWER


Consider a conductor with end points A and B, in which a current I is
flowing from A to B. The electric potential at A and B are denoted by V(A) 105

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and V (B) respectively. Since current is flowing from A to B, V (A) > V (B)
and the potential difference across AB is V = V(A) – V(B) > 0.
In a time interval ∆t, an amount of charge ∆Q = I ∆t travels from A to
B. The potential energy of the charge at A, by definition, was Q V (A) and
similarly at B, it is Q V(B). Thus, change in its potential energy ∆Upot is
∆Upot = Final potential energy – Initial potential energy
= ∆Q[(V (B) – V (A)] = –∆Q V
= –I V∆t < 0 (3.28)
If charges moved without collisions through the conductor, their
kinetic energy would also change so that the total energy is unchanged.
Conservation of total energy would then imply that,
∆K = –∆Upot (3.29)
that is,
∆K = I V∆t > 0 (3.30)
Thus, in case charges were moving freely through the conductor under
the action of electric field, their kinetic energy would increase as they
move. We have, however, seen earlier that on the average, charge carriers
do not move with acceleration but with a steady drift velocity. This is
because of the collisions with ions and atoms during transit. During
collisions, the energy gained by the charges thus is shared with the atoms.
The atoms vibrate more vigorously, i.e., the conductor heats up. Thus,
in an actual conductor, an amount of energy dissipated as heat in the
conductor during the time interval ∆t is,
∆W = I V∆t (3.31)
The energy dissipated per unit time is the power dissipated
P = ∆W/∆t and we have,
P=IV (3.32)
Using Ohm’s law V = IR, we get
P = I 2 R = V 2/R (3.33)
as the power loss (“ohmic loss”) in a conductor of resistance R carrying a
current I. It is this power which heats up, for example, the coil of an
electric bulb to incandescence, radiating out heat and
light.
Where does the power come from? As we have
reasoned before, we need an external source to keep
a steady current through the conductor. It is clearly
this source which must supply this power. In the
simple circuit shown with a cell (Fig.3.12), it is the
chemical energy of the cell which supplies this power
for as long as it can.
FIGURE 3.12 Heat is produced in the The expressions for power, Eqs. (3.32) and (3.33),
resistor R which is connected across show the dependence of the power dissipated in a
the terminals of a cell. The energy resistor R on the current through it and the voltage
dissipated in the resistor R comes from across it.
the chemical energy of the electrolyte. Equation (3.33) has an important application to
power transmission. Electrical power is transmitted
106 from power stations to homes and factories, which

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may be hundreds of miles away, via transmission cables. One obviously
wants to minimise the power loss in the transmission cables connecting
the power stations to homes and factories. We shall see now how this
can be achieved. Consider a device R, to which a power P is to be delivered
via transmission cables having a resistance Rc to be dissipated by it finally.
If V is the voltage across R and I the current through it, then
P=VI (3.34)
The connecting wires from the power station to the device has a finite
resistance Rc. The power dissipated in the connecting wires, which is
wasted is Pc with
Pc = I 2 Rc
P 2 Rc
= (3.35)
V2
from Eq. (3.32). Thus, to drive a device of power P, the power wasted in the
connecting wires is inversely proportional to V 2. The transmission cables
from power stations are hundreds of miles long and their resistance Rc is
considerable. To reduce Pc, these wires carry current at enormous values
of V and this is the reason for the high voltage danger signs on transmission
lines — a common sight as we move away from populated areas. Using
electricity at such voltages is not safe and hence at the other end, a device
called a transformer lowers the voltage to a value suitable for use.

3.10 COMBINATION OF RESISTORS – SERIES AND


PARALLEL
The current through a single resistor R across which there is a potential
difference V is given by Ohm’s law I = V/R. Resistors are sometimes joined
together and there are simple rules for calculation of equivalent resistance
of such combination.

FIGURE 3.13 A series combination of two resistors R1 and R2.


Two resistors are said to be in series if only one of their end points is
joined (Fig. 3.13). If a third resistor is joined with the series combination
of the two (Fig. 3.14), then all three are said to be in series. Clearly, we
can extend this definition to series combination of any number of resistors.

FIGURE 3.14 A series combination of three resistors R1, R2, R3.


Two or more resistors are said to be in parallel if one end of all the
resistors is joined together and similarly the other ends joined together
(Fig. 3.15).

FIGURE 3.15 Two resistors R1 and R2 connected in parallel. 107

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Consider two resistors R1 and R2 in series. The charge which leaves R1
must be entering R2. Since current measures the rate of flow of charge,
this means that the same current I flows through R1 and R2. By Ohm’s law:
Potential difference across R1 = V1 = I R1, and
Potential difference across R2 = V2 = I R2.
The potential difference V across the combination is V1+V2. Hence,
V = V1+ V2 = I (R1 + R2) (3.36)
This is as if the combination had an equivalent resistance Req, which
by Ohm’s law is
V
Req ≡ = (R1 + R2) (3.37)
I
If we had three resistors connected in series, then similarly
V = I R1 + I R2 + I R3 = I (R1+ R2+ R3). (3.38)
This obviously can be extended to a series combination of any number
n of resistors R1, R2 ....., Rn. The equivalent resistance Req is
Req = R1 + R2 + . . . + Rn (3.39)
Consider now the parallel combination of two resistors (Fig. 3.15).
The charge that flows in at A from the left flows out partly through R1
and partly through R2. The currents I, I1, I2 shown in the figure are the
rates of flow of charge at the points indicated. Hence,
I = I1 + I2 (3.40)
The potential difference between A and B is given by the Ohm’s law
applied to R1
V = I1 R1 (3.41)
Also, Ohm’s law applied to R2 gives
V = I2 R2 (3.42)

V V 1 1 
∴ I = I1 + I2 = + =V  +
 R1 R2 
(3.43)
R1 R2
If the combination was replaced by an equivalent resistance Req, we
would have, by Ohm’s law
V
I= (3.44)
Req
Hence,
1 1 1
= + (3.45)
Req R1 R2
We can easily see how this extends to three resistors in parallel
(Fig. 3.16).

108 FIGURE 3.16 Parallel combination of three resistors R1, R2 and R3.

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Exactly as before
I = I1 + I2 + I3 (3.46)
and applying Ohm’s law to R1, R2 and R3 we get,
V = I1 R1, V = I2 R2, V = I3 R3 (3.47)
So that

1 1 1 
I = I1 + I2 + I3 = V  + + (3.48)
 R1 R2 R3 
An equivalent resistance Req that replaces the combination, would be
such that
V
I= (3.49)
Req
and hence
1 1 1 1
= + + (3.50)
Req R1 R2 R3
We can reason similarly for any number of resistors in parallel. The
equivalent resistance of n resistors R1, R2 . . . ,Rn is
1 1 1 1
= + + ... + (3.51)
Req R1 R2 Rn
These formulae for equivalent resistances can be used to find out
currents and voltages in more complicated circuits. Consider for example,
the circuit in Fig. (3.17), where there are three resistors R1, R2 and R3.
R2 and R3 are in parallel and hence we can
23
replace them by an equivalent R eq between
point B and C with
1 1 1
23
= +
Req R2 R3

R2 R3
or, R eq =
23
(3.52)
R 2 + R3
23
The circuit now has R1 and Req in series
and hence their combination can be
replaced by an equivalent resistance with
FIGURE 3.17 A combination of three resistors R1,
eq = Req + R1
R123 23
(3.53)
R2 and R3. R2, R3 are in parallel with an
If the voltage between A and C is V, the 23 23
equivalent resistance Req . R1 and Req are in
current I is given by 123
series with an equivalent resistance Req .
V V
I= =
R1 +  R 2 R 3 / ( R2 + R 3 )
123
Req

V ( R2 + R 3 )
= (3.54)
R1R2 + R1R3 + R2 R3
109

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3.11 CELLS, EMF, INTERNAL RESISTANCE
We have already mentioned that a simple device to maintain a steady
current in an electric circuit is the electrolytic cell. Basically a cell has
two electrodes, called the positive (P) and the negative (N), as shown in
Fig. 3.18. They are immersed in an electrolytic solution. Dipped in the
solution, the electrodes exchange charges with the electrolyte. The
positive electrode has a potential difference V+ (V+ > 0) between
itself and the electrolyte solution immediately adjacent to it marked
A in the figure. Similarly, the negative electrode develops a negative
potential – (V– ) (V– ≥ 0) relative to the electrolyte adjacent to it,
marked as B in the figure. When there is no current, the electrolyte
has the same potential throughout, so that the potential difference
between P and N is V+ – (–V–) = V+ + V– . This difference is called the
electromotive force (emf) of the cell and is denoted by ε. Thus
ε = V++V– > 0 (3.55)
Note that ε is, actually, a potential difference and not a force. The
name emf, however, is used because of historical reasons, and was
given at a time when the phenomenon was not understood properly.
To understand the significance of ε, consider a resistor R
connected across the cell (Fig. 3.18). A current I flows across R
from C to D. As explained before, a steady current is maintained
because current flows from N to P through the electrolyte. Clearly,
across the electrolyte the same current flows through the electrolyte
FIGURE 3.18 (a) Sketch of
an electrolyte cell with but from N to P, whereas through R, it flows from P to N.
positive terminal P and The electrolyte through which a current flows has a finite
negative terminal N. The resistance r, called the internal resistance. Consider first the
gap between the electrodes situation when R is infinite so that I = V/R = 0, where V is the
is exaggerated for clarity. A potential difference between P and N. Now,
and B are points in the V = Potential difference between P and A
electrolyte typically close to + Potential difference between A and B
P and N. (b) the symbol for + Potential difference between B and N
a cell, + referring to P and
=ε (3.56)
– referring to the N
Thus, emf ε is the potential difference between the positive and
electrode. Electrical
connections to the cell are negative electrodes in an open circuit, i.e., when no current is
made at P and N. flowing through the cell.
If however R is finite, I is not zero. In that case the potential
difference between P and N is
V = V++ V– – I r
=ε–Ir (3.57)
Note the negative sign in the expression (I r ) for the potential difference
between A and B. This is because the current I flows from B to A in the
electrolyte.
In practical calculations, internal resistances of cells in the circuit
may be neglected when the current I is such that ε >> I r. The actual
values of the internal resistances of cells vary from cell to cell. The internal
resistance of dry cells, however, is much higher than the common
110 electrolytic cells.

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We also observe that since V is the potential difference across R, we
have from Ohm’s law
V=I R (3.58)
Combining Eqs. (3.57) and (3.58), we get
I R = ε–I r
ε
Or, I = (3.59)
R +r
The maximum current that can be drawn from a cell is for R = 0 and
it is Imax = ε/r. However, in most cells the maximum allowed current is
much lower than this to prevent permanent damage to the cell.

CHARGES IN CLOUDS

In olden days lightning was considered as an atmospheric flash of supernatural origin.


It was believed to be the great weapon of Gods. But today the phenomenon of lightning
can be explained scientifically by elementary principles of physics.
Atmospheric electricity arises due to the separation of electric charges. In the
ionosphere and magnetosphere strong electric current is generated from the solar-
terrestrial interaction. In the lower atmosphere, the current is weaker and is maintained
by thunderstorm.
There are ice particles in the clouds, which grow, collide, fracture and break apart.
The smaller particles acquire positive charge and the larger ones negative charge. These
charged particles get separated by updrifts in the clouds and gravity. The upper portion
of the cloud becomes positively charged and the middle negatively charged, leading to
dipole structure. Sometimes a very weak positive charge is found near the base of the
cloud. The ground is positively charged at the time of thunderstorm development. Also,
cosmic and radioactive radiations ionise air into positive and negative ions and the air
becomes (weakly) electrically conductive. The separation of charges produce tremendous
amount of electrical potential within the cloud, as well, as between the cloud and ground.
This can amount to millions of volts and eventually the electrical resistance in the air
breaks down and lightning flash begins and thousands of amperes of current flows. The
electric field is of the order of 105 V/m. A lightning flash is composed of a series of
strokes with an average of about four and the duration of each flash is about 30 seconds.
The average peak power per stroke is about 1012 watts.
During fair weather also there is charge in the atmosphere. The fair weather electric
field arises due to the existence of a surface charge density at ground and an atmospheric
conductivity, as well as, due to the flow of current from the ionosphere to the earth’s
surface, which is of the order of picoampere / square metre. The surface charge density
at ground is negative; the electric field is directed downward. Over land the average
electric field is about 120 V/m, which corresponds to a surface charge density of
–1.2 × 10–9 C/m2. Over the entire earth’s surface, the total negative charge amount to
about 600 kC. An equal positive charge exists in the atmosphere. This electric field is not
noticeable in daily life. The reason why it is not noticed is that virtually everything, including
our bodies, is conductor compared to air.

111

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Example 3.5 A network of resistors is connected to a 16 V battery
with internal resistance of 1Ω, as shown in Fig. 3.19: (a) Compute
the equivalent resistance of the network. (b) Obtain the current in
each resistor. (c) Obtain the voltage drops VAB, VBC and VCD.

FIGURE 3.19
Solution
(a) The network is a simple series and parallel combination of
resistors. First the two 4Ω resistors in parallel are equivalent to a
resistor = [(4 × 4)/(4 + 4)] Ω = 2 Ω.
In the same way, the 12 Ω and 6 Ω resistors in parallel are
equivalent to a resistor of
[(12 × 6)/(12 + 6)] Ω = 4 Ω.
The equivalent resistance R of the network is obtained by
combining these resistors (2 Ω and 4 Ω) with 1 Ω in series,
that is,
R = 2 Ω + 4 Ω + 1 Ω = 7 Ω.
(b) The total current I in the circuit is
ε 16 V
I= = =2A
R +r (7 + 1) Ω
Consider the resistors between A and B. If I1 is the current in one
of the 4 Ω resistors and I2 the current in the other,
I1 × 4 = I2 × 4
that is, I1 = I2, which is otherwise obvious from the symmetry of
the two arms. But I1 + I2 = I = 2 A. Thus,
I1 = I2 = 1 A
that is, current in each 4 Ω resistor is 1 A. Current in 1 Ω resistor
between B and C would be 2 A.
Now, consider the resistances between C and D. If I3 is the current
in the 12 Ω resistor, and I4 in the 6 Ω resistor,
I3 × 12 = I4 × 6, i.e., I4 = 2I3
But, I3 + I4 = I = 2 A

2 4
Thus, I3 =   A, I4 =   A
3 3
that is, the current in the 12 Ω resistor is (2/3) A, while the current
EXAMPLE 3.5

in the 6 Ω resistor is (4/3) A.


(c) The voltage drop across AB is
VAB = I1 × 4 = 1 A × 4 Ω = 4 V,
This can also be obtained by multiplying the total current between
112 A and B by the equivalent resistance between A and B, that is,

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VAB = 2 A × 2 Ω = 4 V
The voltage drop across BC is
VBC = 2 A × 1 Ω = 2 V
Finally, the voltage drop across CD is
2
VCD = 12 Ω × I3 = 12 Ω ×   A = 8 V.
3
This can alternately be obtained by multiplying total current
between C and D by the equivalent resistance between C and D,
that is,
VCD = 2 A × 4 Ω = 8 V

EXAMPLE 3.5
Note that the total voltage drop across AD is 4 V + 2 V + 8 V = 14 V.
Thus, the terminal voltage of the battery is 14 V, while its emf is 16 V.
The loss of the voltage (= 2 V) is accounted for by the internal resistance
1 Ω of the battery [2 A × 1 Ω = 2 V].

3.12 CELLS IN SERIES AND IN PARALLEL


Like resistors, cells can be combined together in an electric circuit. And
like resistors, one can, for calculating currents and voltages in a circuit,
replace a combination of cells by an equivalent cell.

FIGURE 3.20 Two cells of emf’s ε1 and ε2 in the series. r1, r2 are their
internal resistances. For connections across A and C, the combination
can be considered as one cell of emf εeq and an internal resistance req.

Consider first two cells in series (Fig. 3.20), where one terminal of the
two cells is joined together leaving the other terminal in either cell free.
ε1, ε2 are the emf’s of the two cells and r1, r2 their internal resistances,
respectively.
Let V (A), V (B), V (C) be the potentials at points A, B and C shown in
Fig. 3.20. Then V (A) – V (B) is the potential difference between the positive
and negative terminals of the first cell. We have already calculated it in
Eq. (3.57) and hence,
V AB ≡ V ( A) – V (B) = ε1 – I r1 (3.60)

Similarly,

VBC ≡ V (B) – V (C) = ε 2 – I r2 (3.61)


Hence, the potential difference between the terminals A and C of the
combination is

V AC ≡ V (A ) – V (C) = V ( A ) – V ( B ) + V ( B ) – V (C )

= (ε1 + ε 2 ) – I (r1 + r2 ) (3.62) 113

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If we wish to replace the combination by a single cell between A and
C of emf εeq and internal resistance req, we would have
VAC = εeq– I req (3.63)
Comparing the last two equations, we get
εeq = ε1 + ε2 (3.64)
and req = r1 + r2 (3.65)
In Fig.3.20, we had connected the negative electrode of the first to the
positive electrode of the second. If instead we connect the two negatives,
Eq. (3.61) would change to VBC = –ε2–Ir2 and we will get
εeq = ε1 – ε2 (ε1 > ε2) (3.66)
The rule for series combination clearly can be extended to any number
of cells:
(i) The equivalent emf of a series combination of n cells is just the sum of
their individual emf’s, and
(ii) The equivalent internal resistance of a series combination of n cells is
just the sum of their internal resistances.
This is so, when the current leaves each cell from the positive
electrode. If in the combination, the current leaves any cell from
the negative electrode, the emf of the cell enters the expression
for εeq with a negative sign, as in Eq. (3.66).
Next, consider a parallel combination of the cells (Fig. 3.21).
I1 and I2 are the currents leaving the positive electrodes of the
cells. At the point B1, I1 and I2 flow in whereas the current I flows
out. Since as much charge flows in as out, we have
FIGURE 3.21 Two cells in I = I1 + I2 (3.67)
parallel. For connections Let V (B1) and V (B2) be the potentials at B1 and B2, respectively.
across A and C, the Then, considering the first cell, the potential difference across its
combination can be terminals is V (B1) – V (B2). Hence, from Eq. (3.57)
replaced by one cell of emf
εeq and internal resistances V ≡ V ( B1 ) – V ( B2 ) = ε1 – I1r1 (3.68)
req whose values are given in Points B1 and B2 are connected exactly similarly to the second
Eqs. (3.73) and (3.74). cell. Hence considering the second cell, we also have
V ≡ V ( B1 ) – V ( B2 ) = ε 2 – I 2r2 (3.69)
Combining the last three equations
I = I1 + I 2

ε1 – V ε 2 – V  ε1 ε 2  1 1
= + = +  –V  +  (3.70)
r1 r2  r1 r2   r1 r2 
Hence, V is given by,
ε1r2 + ε 2r1 r1r2
V = –I (3.71)
r1 + r2 r1 + r2
If we want to replace the combination by a single cell, between B1 and
B2, of emf εeq and internal resistance req, we would have
114 V = εeq – I req (3.72)

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The last two equations should be the same and hence
ε1r2 + ε 2r1
ε eq = (3.73)
r1 + r2

GUSTAV ROBERT KIRCHHOFF (1824 – 1887)


r1r2
req = (3.74)
r1 + r2
We can put these equations in a simpler way,

1 1 1
= + (3.75)
req r1 r2

ε eq ε1 ε2
= + (3.76)
req r1 r2
In Fig. (3.21), we had joined the positive terminals
Gustav Robert Kirchhoff
together and similarly the two negative ones, so that the
(1824 – 1887) German
currents I1, I2 flow out of positive terminals. If the negative physicist, professor at
terminal of the second is connected to positive terminal Heidelberg and at
of the first, Eqs. (3.75) and (3.76) would still be valid with Berlin. Mainly known for
ε 2 → –ε2 his development of
Equations (3.75) and (3.76) can be extended easily. spectroscopy, he also
If there are n cells of emf ε1, . . . εn and of internal made many important
resistances r1,... rn respectively, connected in parallel, the contributions to mathe-
combination is equivalent to a single cell of emf εeq and matical physics, among
them, his first and
internal resistance req, such that
second rules for circuits.
1 1 1
= + ... + (3.77)
req r1 rn

εeq ε1 ε
= + ... + n (3.78)
req r1 rn

3.13 KIRCHHOFF’S RULES


Electric circuits generally consist of a number of resistors and cells
interconnected sometimes in a complicated way. The formulae we have
derived earlier for series and parallel combinations of resistors are not
always sufficient to determine all the currents and potential differences
in the circuit. Two rules, called Kirchhoff’s rules, are very useful for
analysis of electric circuits.
Given a circuit, we start by labelling currents in each resistor by a
symbol, say I, and a directed arrow to indicate that a current I flows
along the resistor in the direction indicated. If ultimately I is determined
to be positive, the actual current in the resistor is in the direction of the
arrow. If I turns out to be negative, the current actually flows in a direction
opposite to the arrow. Similarly, for each source (i.e., cell or some other
source of electrical power) the positive and negative electrodes are labelled,
as well as, a directed arrow with a symbol for the current flowing through
the cell. This will tell us the potential difference, V = V (P) – V (N) = ε – I r 115

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[Eq. (3.57) between the positive terminal P and the negative terminal N; I
here is the current flowing from N to P through the cell]. If, while labelling
the current I through the cell one goes from P to N,
then of course
V=ε+Ir (3.79)
Having clarified labelling, we now state the rules
and the proof:
(a) Junction rule: At any junction, the sum of the
currents entering the junction is equal to the
sum of currents leaving the junction (Fig. 3.22).
This applies equally well if instead of a junction of
several lines, we consider a point in a line.
The proof of this rule follows from the fact that
when currents are steady, there is no accumulation
FIGURE 3.22 At junction a the current of charges at any junction or at any point in a line.
leaving is I1 + I2 and current entering is I3.
Thus, the total current flowing in, (which is the rate
The junction rule says I3 = I1 + I2. At point
at which charge flows into the junction), must equal
h current entering is I1. There is only one
current leaving h and by junction rule the total current flowing out.
that will also be I1. For the loops ‘ahdcba’ (b) Loop rule: The algebraic sum of changes in
and ‘ahdefga’, the loop rules give –30I1 – potential around any closed loop involving
41 I3 + 45 = 0 and –30I1 + 21 I2 – 80 = 0. resistors and cells in the loop is zero (Fig. 3.22).
This rule is also obvious, since electric potential is
dependent on the location of the point. Thus starting with any point if we
come back to the same point, the total change must be zero. In a closed
loop, we do come back to the starting point and hence the rule.

Example 3.6 A battery of 10 V and negligible internal resistance is


connected across the diagonally opposite corners of a cubical network
consisting of 12 resistors each of resistance 1 Ω (Fig. 3.23). Determine
the equivalent resistance of the network and the current along each
edge of the cube.
EXAMPLE 3.6

116 FIGURE 3.23

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Solution The network is not reducible to a simple series and parallel


combinations of resistors. There is, however, a clear symmetry in the
problem which we can exploit to obtain the equivalent resistance of
the network.
The paths AA′, AD and AB are obviously symmetrically placed in the
network. Thus, the current in each must be the same, say, I. Further,
at the corners A′, B and D, the incoming current I must split equally
into the two outgoing branches. In this manner, the current in all
the 12 edges of the cube are easily written down in terms of I, using
Kirchhoff’s first rule and the symmetry in the problem.
Next take a closed loop, say, ABCC′EA, and apply Kirchhoff’s second
rule:
–IR – (1/2)IR – IR + ε = 0
where R is the resistance of each edge and ε the emf of battery. Thus,
5
ε= IR
2

http://www.phys.hawaii.edu/~teb/optics/java/kirch3/
Similation for application of Kirchhoff ’s rules:
The equivalent resistance Req of the network is
ε 5
Req = =
R
3I 6

EXAMPLE 3.6
For R = 1 Ω, Req = (5/6) Ω and for ε = 10 V, the total current (= 3I ) in
the network is
3I = 10 V/(5/6) Ω = 12 A, i.e., I = 4 A
The current flowing in each edge can now be read off from the
Fig. 3.23.

It should be noted that because of the symmetry of the network, the


great power of Kirchhoff’s rules has not been very apparent in Example 3.6.
In a general network, there will be no such simplification due to
symmetry, and only by application of Kirchhoff’s rules to junctions and
closed loops (as many as necessary to solve the unknowns in the network)
can we handle the problem. This will be illustrated in Example 3.7.

Example 3.7 Determine the current in each branch of the network


shown in Fig. 3.24.
EXAMPLE 3.7

FIGURE 3.24
117

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Solution Each branch of the network is assigned an unknown current
to be determined by the application of Kirchhoff’s rules. To reduce
the number of unknowns at the outset, the first rule of Kirchhoff is
used at every junction to assign the unknown current in each branch.
We then have three unknowns I 1, I2 and I3 which can be found by
applying the second rule of Kirchhoff to three different closed loops.
Kirchhoff’s second rule for the closed loop ADCA gives,
10 – 4(I1– I2) + 2(I2 + I3 – I1) – I1 = 0 [3.80(a)]
that is, 7I1– 6I2 – 2I3 = 10
For the closed loop ABCA, we get
10 – 4I2– 2 (I2 + I3) – I1 = 0
that is, I1 + 6I2 + 2I3 =10 [3.80(b)]
For the closed loop BCDEB, we get
5 – 2 (I2 + I3 ) – 2 (I2 + I3 – I1) = 0
that is, 2I1 – 4I2 – 4I3 = –5 [3.80(c)]
Equations (3.80 a, b, c) are three simultaneous equations in three
unknowns. These can be solved by the usual method to give
5 7
I1 = 2.5A, I2 = A, I3 = 1 A
8 8
The currents in the various branches of the network are
5 1 7
AB : A, CA : 2 A, DEB : 1 A
8 2 8
7 1
AD : 1 A, CD : 0 A, BC : 2 A
8 2
It is easily verified that Kirchhoff’s second rule applied to the
remaining closed loops does not provide any additional independent
equation, that is, the above values of currents satisfy the second
rule for every closed loop of the network. For example, the total voltage
EXAMPLE 3.7

drop over the closed loop BADEB


5  15 
5 V+  × 4 V−  × 4 V
8   8 
equal to zero, as required by Kirchhoff’s second rule.

3.14 WHEATSTONE BRIDGE


As an application of Kirchhoff’s rules consider the circuit shown in
Fig. 3.25, which is called the Wheatstone bridge. The bridge has
four resistors R1, R2, R3 and R4. Across one pair of diagonally opposite
points (A and C in the figure) a source is connected. This (i.e., AC) is
called the battery arm. Between the other two vertices, B and D, a
galvanometer G (which is a device to detect currents) is connected. This
line, shown as BD in the figure, is called the galvanometer arm.
For simplicity, we assume that the cell has no internal resistance. In
general there will be currents flowing across all the resistors as well as a
current Ig through G. Of special interest, is the case of a balanced bridge
where the resistors are such that Ig = 0. We can easily get the balance
condition, such that there is no current through G. In this case, the
118 Kirchhoff’s junction rule applied to junctions D and B (see the figure)

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immediately gives us the relations I1 = I3 and I2 = I4. Next, we apply
Kirchhoff’s loop rule to closed loops ADBA and CBDC. The first
loop gives
–I1 R1 + 0 + I2 R2 = 0 (Ig = 0) (3.81)
and the second loop gives, upon using I3 = I1, I4 = I2
I2 R4 + 0 – I1 R3 = 0 (3.82)
From Eq. (3.81), we obtain,
I1 R2
=
I 2 R1
whereas from Eq. (3.82), we obtain,
I1 R4
=
I 2 R3
Hence, we obtain the condition
R2 R FIGURE 3.25
= 4 [3.83(a)]
R1 R3
This last equation relating the four resistors is called the balance
condition for the galvanometer to give zero or null deflection.
The Wheatstone bridge and its balance condition provide a practical
method for determination of an unknown resistance. Let us suppose we
have an unknown resistance, which we insert in the fourth arm; R4 is
thus not known. Keeping known resistances R1 and R2 in the first and
second arm of the bridge, we go on varying R3 till the galvanometer shows
a null deflection. The bridge then is balanced, and from the balance
condition the value of the unknown resistance R4 is given by,
R
R4 = R3 2 [3.83(b)]
R1
A practical device using this principle is called the meter bridge. It
will be discussed in the next section.

Example 3.8 The four arms of a Wheatstone bridge (Fig. 3.26) have
the following resistances:
AB = 100Ω, BC = 10Ω, CD = 5Ω, and DA = 60Ω.
EXAMPLE 3.8

FIGURE 3.26 119

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A galvanometer of 15Ω resistance is connected across BD. Calculate
the current through the galvanometer when a potential difference of
10 V is maintained across AC.
Solution Considering the mesh BADB, we have
100I1 + 15Ig – 60I2 = 0
or 20I1 + 3Ig – 12I2= 0 [3.84(a)]
Considering the mesh BCDB, we have
10 (I1 – Ig) – 15Ig – 5 (I2 + Ig ) = 0
10I1 – 30Ig –5I2 = 0
2I1 – 6Ig – I2 = 0 [3.84(b)]
Considering the mesh ADCEA,
60I2 + 5 (I2 + Ig ) = 10
65I2 + 5Ig = 10
13I2 + Ig = 2 [3.84(c)]
Multiplying Eq. (3.84b) by 10
20I1 – 60Ig – 10I2 = 0 [3.84(d)]
From Eqs. (3.84d) and (3.84a) we have
63Ig – 2I2 = 0
I2 = 31.5Ig [3.84(e)]
EXAMPLE 3.8

Substituting the value of I2 into Eq. [3.84(c)], we get


13 (31.5Ig ) + Ig = 2
410.5 Ig = 2
Ig = 4.87 mA.

3.15 METER BRIDGE


The meter bridge is shown in Fig. 3.27. It consists of
a wire of length 1 m and of uniform cross sectional
area stretched taut and clamped between two thick
metallic strips bent at right angles, as shown. The
metallic strip has two gaps across which resistors can
be connected. The end points where the wire is
clamped are connected to a cell through a key. One
end of a galvanometer is connected to the metallic
FIGURE 3.27 A meter bridge. Wire AC strip midway between the two gaps. The other end of
is 1 m long. R is a resistance to be the galvanometer is connected to a ‘jockey’. The jockey
measured and S is a standard is essentially a metallic rod whose one end has a
resistance. knife-edge which can slide over the wire to make
electrical connection.
R is an unknown resistance whose value we want to determine. It is
120 connected across one of the gaps. Across the other gap, we connect a

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standard known resistance S. The jockey is connected to some point D
on the wire, a distance l cm from the end A. The jockey can be moved
along the wire. The portion AD of the wire has a resistance Rcml, where
Rcm is the resistance of the wire per unit centimetre. The portion DC of
the wire similarly has a resistance Rcm (100-l ).
The four arms AB, BC, DA and CD [with resistances R, S, Rcm l and
Rcm(100-l )] obviously form a Wheatstone bridge with AC as the battery
arm and BD the galvanometer arm. If the jockey is moved along the wire,
then there will be one position where the galvanometer will show no
current. Let the distance of the jockey from the end A at the balance
point be l= l1. The four resistances of the bridge at the balance point then
are R, S, Rcm l1 and Rcm(100–l1). The balance condition, Eq. [3.83(a)]
gives
R Rcm l1 l1
= =
S Rcm (100 – l1 ) 100 – l1 (3.85)

Thus, once we have found out l1, the unknown resistance R is known
in terms of the standard known resistance S by
l1
R =S (3.86)
100 – l1
By choosing various values of S, we would get various values of l1,
and calculate R each time. An error in measurement of l1 would naturally
result in an error in R. It can be shown that the percentage error in R can
be minimised by adjusting the balance point near the middle of the
bridge, i.e., when l1 is close to 50 cm. ( This requires a suitable choice
of S.)

Example 3.9 In a meter bridge (Fig. 3.27), the null point is found at a
distance of 33.7 cm from A. If now a resistance of 12Ω is connected in
parallel with S, the null point occurs at 51.9 cm. Determine the values
of R and S.
Solution From the first balance point, we get
R 33.7
= (3.87)
S 66.3
After S is connected in parallel with a resistance of 12Ω , the resistance
across the gap changes from S to Seq, where
12S
Seq =
S + 12
and hence the new balance condition now gives
51.9 R R (S + 12 )
= = (3.88)
48.1 Seq 12 S
Substituting the value of R/S from Eq. (3.87), we get
EXAMPLE 3.9

51.9 S + 12 33.7
= .
48.1 12 66.3
which gives S = 13.5Ω. Using the value of R/S above, we get
R = 6.86 Ω. 121

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3.16 POTENTIOMETER
This is a versatile instrument. It is basically a long piece of uniform wire,
sometimes a few meters in length across which a standard cell (B) is
connected. In actual design, the wire is sometimes cut in several pieces
placed side by side and connected at the ends by thick metal strip.
(Fig. 3.28). In the figure, the wires run from A to C. The small vertical
portions are the thick metal strips connecting the various sections of
the wire.
A current I flows through the wire which can be varied by a variable
resistance (rheostat, R) in the circuit. Since the wire is uniform, the
potential difference between A and any point at a distance l from A is
ε (l ) = φ l (3.89)
where φ is the potential drop per unit length.
Figure 3.28 (a) shows an application of the potentiometer to compare
the emf of two cells of emf ε1 and ε2 . The points marked 1, 2, 3 form a two
way key. Consider first a position of the key where 1 and 3 are connected
so that the galvanometer is connected to ε1. The jockey
is moved along the wire till at a point N1, at a distance l1
from A, there is no deflection in the galvanometer. We
can apply Kirchhoff’s loop rule to the closed loop
AN1G31A and get,
φ l1 + 0 – ε1 = 0 (3.90)
Similarly, if another emf ε2 is balanced against l2 (AN2)
φ l2 + 0 – ε2 = 0 (3.91)
From the last two equations
ε1 l1
= (3.92)
ε2 l 2
This simple mechanism thus allows one to compare
the emf’s of any two sources (ε1,ε2). In practice one of the
cells is chosen as a standard cell whose emf is known to
a high degree of accuracy. The emf of the other cell is
then easily calculated from Eq. (3.92).
We can also use a potentiometer to measure internal
resistance of a cell [Fig. 3.28 (b)]. For this the cell (emf ε )
whose internal resistance (r) is to be determined is
connected across a resistance box through a key K2, as
FIGURE 3.28 A potentiometer. G is shown in the figure. With key K2 open, balance is
a galvanometer and R a variable obtained at length l1 (AN1). Then,
resistance (rheostat). 1, 2, 3 are
terminals of a two way key
ε = φ l1 [3.93(a)]
(a) circuit for comparing emfs of two When key K2 is closed, the cell sends a current (I )
cells; (b) circuit for determining through the resistance box (R). If V is the terminal
internal resistance of a cell. potential difference of the cell and balance is obtained at
length l2 (AN2),
122 V = φ l2 [3.93(b)]

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So, we have ε/V = l1/l 2 [3.94(a)]
But, ε = I (r + R ) and V = IR. This gives
ε/V = (r+R )/R [3.94(b)]
From Eq. [3.94(a)] and [3.94(b)] we have
(R+r )/R = l1/l 2
l 
r = R  1 – 1 (3.95)
 l2 
Using Eq. (3.95) we can find the internal resistance of a given cell.
The potentiometer has the advantage that it draws no current from
the voltage source being measured. As such it is unaffected by the internal
resistance of the source.

Example 3.10 A resistance of R Ω draws current from a


potentiometer. The potentiometer has a total resistance R 0 Ω
(Fig. 3.29). A voltage V is supplied to the potentiometer. Derive an
expression for the voltage across R when the sliding contact is in the
middle of the potentiometer.

FIGURE 3.29

Solution While the slide is in the middle of the potentiometer only


half of its resistance (R0/2) will be between the points A and B. Hence,
the total resistance between A and B, say, R1, will be given by the
following expression:
1 1 1
= +
R1 R (R0 /2)
R0 R
R1 =
R0 + 2R
The total resistance between A and C will be sum of resistance between
A and B and B and C, i.e., R1 + R0/2
∴ The current flowing through the potentiometer will be
V 2V
I= =
R1 + R0 / 2 2R1 + R 0
EXAMPLE 3.10

The voltage V1 taken from the potentiometer will be the product of


current I and resistance R1,
 2V 
V1 = I R 1 =  × R1
 2R1 + R0  123

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Substituting for R1, we have a
2V R ×R
V1 = × 0
 R ×R  R 0 + 2R
2  0  + R0
 R 0 + 2R 
EXAMPLE 3.10

2VR
V1 =
2R + R0 + 2R

or V1 = 2VR
.
R0 + 4R

SUMMARY

1. Current through a given area of a conductor is the net charge passing


per unit time through the area.
2. To maintain a steady current, we must have a closed circuit in which
an external agency moves electric charge from lower to higher potential
energy. The work done per unit charge by the source in taking the
charge from lower to higher potential energy (i.e., from one terminal
of the source to the other) is called the electromotive force, or emf, of
the source. Note that the emf is not a force; it is the voltage difference
between the two terminals of a source in open circuit.
3. Ohm’s law: The electric current I flowing through a substance is
proportional to the voltage V across its ends, i.e., V ∝ I or V = RI,
where R is called the resistance of the substance. The unit of resistance
is ohm: 1Ω = 1 V A–1.
4. The resistance R of a conductor depends on its length l and
cross-sectional area A through the relation,
ρl
R=
A
where ρ, called resistivity is a property of the material and depends on
temperature and pressure.
5. Electrical resistivity of substances varies over a very wide range. Metals
have low resistivity, in the range of 10–8 Ω m to 10–6 Ω m. Insulators
like glass and rubber have 1022 to 1024 times greater resistivity.
Semiconductors like Si and Ge lie roughly in the middle range of
resistivity on a logarithmic scale.
6. In most substances, the carriers of current are electrons; in some
cases, for example, ionic crystals and electrolytic liquids, positive and
negative ions carry the electric current.
7. Current density j gives the amount of charge flowing per second per
unit area normal to the flow,
j = nq vd
where n is the number density (number per unit volume) of charge
carriers each of charge q, and vd is the drift velocity of the charge
carriers. For electrons q = – e. If j is normal to a cross-sectional area
A and is constant over the area, the magnitude of the current I through
the area is nevd A.
124

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8. Using E = V/l, I = nevd A, and Ohm’s law, one obtains


eE ne 2
=ρ vd
m m
The proportionality between the force eE on the electrons in a metal
due to the external field E and the drift velocity vd (not acceleration)
can be understood, if we assume that the electrons suffer collisions
with ions in the metal, which deflect them randomly. If such collisions
occur on an average at a time interval τ,
vd = aτ = eEτ/m
where a is the acceleration of the electron. This gives
m
ρ=
ne 2τ
9. In the temperature range in which resistivity increases linearly with
temperature, the temperature coefficient of resistivity α is defined as
the fractional increase in resistivity per unit increase in temperature.
10. Ohm’s law is obeyed by many substances, but it is not a fundamental
law of nature. It fails if
(a) V depends on I non-linearly.
(b) the relation between V and I depends on the sign of V for the same
absolute value of V.
(c) The relation between V and I is non-unique.
An example of (a) is when ρ increases with I (even if temperature is
kept fixed). A rectifier combines features (a) and (b). GaAs shows the
feature (c).
11. When a source of emf ε is connected to an external resistance R, the
voltage Vext across R is given by
ε
Vext = IR = R
R +r
where r is the internal resistance of the source.
12. (a) Total resistance R of n resistors connected in series is given by
R = R1 + R2 +..... + Rn
(b) Total resistance R of n resistors connected in parallel is given by
1 1 1 1
= + + ...... +
R R1 R 2 Rn
13. Kirchhoff’s Rules –
(a) Junction Rule: At any junction of circuit elements, the sum of
currents entering the junction must equal the sum of currents
leaving it.
(b) Loop Rule: The algebraic sum of changes in potential around any
closed loop must be zero.
14. The Wheatstone bridge is an arrangement of four resistances – R1, R2,
R3, R4 as shown in the text. The null-point condition is given by
R1 R3
=
R2 R4
using which the value of one resistance can be determined, knowing
the other three resistances.
15. The potentiometer is a device to compare potential differences. Since
the method involves a condition of no current flow, the device can be
used to measure potential difference; internal resistance of a cell and
compare emf’s of two sources. 125

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Physical Quantity Symbol Dimensions Unit Remark

Electric current I [A] A SI base unit


Charge Q, q [T A] C
2 –3 –1
Voltage, Electric V [M L T A ] V Work/charge
potential difference
Electromotive force ε [M L T A ]
2 –3 –1
V Work/charge

2 –3 –2
Resistance R [M L T A ] R = V/I
Resistivity ρ [M L T A ]
3 –3 –2
Ωm R = ρl/A
Electrical σ [M
–1 –3
L T A]
3 2
S σ = 1/ρ
conductivity
–3 –1 –1 Electric force
Electric field E [M L T A ] Vm
charge
eE τ
Drift speed vd [L T –1] m s–1 vd =
m
Relaxation time τ [T] s
–2 –2
Current density j [L A] Am current/area

Mobility µ [M L T A ]
3 –4 –1 2
m V s
–1 –1
vd / E

POINTS TO PONDER

1. Current is a scalar although we represent current with an arrow.


Currents do not obey the law of vector addition. That current is a
scalar also follows from it’s definition. The current I through an area
of cross-section is given by the scalar product of two vectors:
I = j . ∆S
where j and ∆S are vectors.
2. Refer to V-I curves of a resistor and a diode as drawn in the text. A
resistor obeys Ohm’s law while a diode does not. The assertion that
V = IR is a statement of Ohm’s law is not true. This equation defines
resistance and it may be applied to all conducting devices whether
they obey Ohm’s law or not. The Ohm’s law asserts that the plot of I
versus V is linear i.e., R is independent of V.
Equation E = ρ j leads to another statement of Ohm’s law, i.e., a
conducting material obeys Ohm’s law when the resistivity of the
material does not depend on the magnitude and direction of applied
electric field.
3. Homogeneous conductors like silver or semiconductors like pure
germanium or germanium containing impurities obey Ohm’s law
within some range of electric field values. If the field becomes too
strong, there are departures from Ohm’s law in all cases.
4. Motion of conduction electrons in electric field E is the sum of (i)
126 motion due to random collisions and (ii) that due to E. The motion

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due to random collisions averages to zero and does not contribute to


vd (Chapter 11, Textbook of Class XI). vd , thus is only due to applied
electric field on the electron.
5. The relation j = ρ v should be applied to each type of charge carriers
separately. In a conducting wire, the total current and charge density
arises from both positive and negative charges:
j = ρ+ v+ + ρ– v–
ρ = ρ+ + ρ–
Now in a neutral wire carrying electric current,
ρ + = – ρ–
Further, v+ ~ 0 which gives
ρ=0
j = ρ– v
Thus, the relation j = ρ v does not apply to the total current charge
density.
6. Kirchhoff’s junction rule is based on conservation of charge and the
outgoing currents add up and are equal to incoming current at a
junction. Bending or reorienting the wire does not change the validity
of Kirchhoff’s junction rule.

EXERCISES
3.1 The storage battery of a car has an emf of 12 V. If the internal
resistance of the battery is 0.4 Ω, what is the maximum current
that can be drawn from the battery?
3.2 A battery of emf 10 V and internal resistance 3 Ω is connected to a
resistor. If the current in the circuit is 0.5 A, what is the resistance
of the resistor? What is the terminal voltage of the battery when the
circuit is closed?
3.3 (a) Three resistors 1 Ω, 2 Ω, and 3 Ω are combined in series. What
is the total resistance of the combination?
(b) If the combination is connected to a battery of emf 12 V and
negligible internal resistance, obtain the potential drop across
each resistor.
3.4 (a) Three resistors 2 Ω, 4 Ω and 5 Ω are combined in parallel. What
is the total resistance of the combination?
(b) If the combination is connected to a battery of emf 20 V and
negligible internal resistance, determine the current through
each resistor, and the total current drawn from the battery.
3.5 At room temperature (27.0 °C) the resistance of a heating element
is 100 Ω. What is the temperature of the element if the resistance is
found to be 117 Ω, given that the temperature coefficient of the
material of the resistor is 1.70 × 10–4 °C–1.
3.6 A negligibly small current is passed through a wire of length 15 m
and uniform cross-section 6.0 × 10 –7 m2 , and its resistance is
measured to be 5.0 Ω. What is the resistivity of the material at the
temperature of the experiment?
3.7 A silver wire has a resistance of 2.1 Ω at 27.5 °C, and a resistance
of 2.7 Ω at 100 °C. Determine the temperature coefficient of
resistivity of silver.
3.8 A heating element using nichrome connected to a 230 V supply
draws an initial current of 3.2 A which settles after a few seconds to 127

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a steady value of 2.8 A. What is the steady temperature of the heating
element if the room temperature is 27.0 °C? Temperature coefficient
of resistance of nichrome averaged over the temperature range
involved is 1.70 × 10–4 °C–1.
3.9 Determine the current in each branch of the network shown in
Fig. 3.30:

FIGURE 3.30

3.10 (a) In a meter bridge [Fig. 3.27], the balance point is found to be at
39.5 cm from the end A, when the resistor Y is of 12.5 Ω.
Determine the resistance of X. Why are the connections between
resistors in a Wheatstone or meter bridge made of thick copper
strips?
(b) Determine the balance point of the bridge above if X and Y are
interchanged.
(c) What happens if the galvanometer and cell are interchanged at
the balance point of the bridge? Would the galvanometer show
any current?
3.11 A storage battery of emf 8.0 V and internal resistance 0.5 Ω is being
charged by a 120 V dc supply using a series resistor of 15.5 Ω. What
is the terminal voltage of the battery during charging? What is the
purpose of having a series resistor in the charging circuit?
3.12 In a potentiometer arrangement, a cell of emf 1.25 V gives a balance
point at 35.0 cm length of the wire. If the cell is replaced by another
cell and the balance point shifts to 63.0 cm, what is the emf of the
second cell?
3. 13 The number density of free electrons in a copper conductor
estimated in Example 3.1 is 8.5 × 1028 m–3. How long does an electron
take to drift from one end of a wire 3.0 m long to its other end? The
area of cross-section of the wire is 2.0 × 10–6 m2 and it is carrying a
current of 3.0 A.

ADDITIONAL EXERCISES
3. 14 The earth’s surface has a negative surface charge density of 10–9 C
m –2. The potential difference of 400 kV between the top of the
atmosphere and the surface results (due to the low conductivity of
the lower atmosphere) in a current of only 1800 A over the entire
128 globe. If there were no mechanism of sustaining atmospheric electric

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field, how much time (roughly) would be required to neutralise the
earth’s surface? (This never happens in practice because there is a
mechanism to replenish electric charges, namely the continual
thunderstorms and lightning in different parts of the globe). (Radius
of earth = 6.37 × 106 m.)
3.15 (a) Six lead-acid type of secondary cells each of emf 2.0 V and internal
resistance 0.015 Ω are joined in series to provide a supply to a
resistance of 8.5 Ω. What are the current drawn from the supply
and its terminal voltage?
(b) A secondary cell after long use has an emf of 1.9 V and a large
internal resistance of 380 Ω. What maximum current can be drawn
from the cell? Could the cell drive the starting motor of a car?
3.16 Two wires of equal length, one of aluminium and the other of copper
have the same resistance. Which of the two wires is lighter? Hence
explain why aluminium wires are preferred for overhead power cables.
(ρAl = 2.63 × 10–8 Ω m, ρCu = 1.72 × 10–8 Ω m, Relative density of
Al = 2.7, of Cu = 8.9.)
3.17 What conclusion can you draw from the following observations on a
resistor made of alloy manganin?
Current Voltage Current Voltage
A V A V
0.2 3.94 3.0 59.2
0.4 7.87 4.0 78.8
0.6 11.8 5.0 98.6
0.8 15.7 6.0 118.5
1.0 19.7 7.0 138.2
2.0 39.4 8.0 158.0

3.18 Answer the following questions:


(a) A steady current flows in a metallic conductor of non-uniform
cross-section. Which of these quantities is constant along the
conductor: current, current density, electric field, drift speed?
(b) Is Ohm’s law universally applicable for all conducting elements?
If not, give examples of elements which do not obey Ohm’s law.
(c) A low voltage supply from which one needs high currents must
have very low internal resistance. Why?
(d) A high tension (HT) supply of, say, 6 kV must have a very large
internal resistance. Why?
3.19 Choose the correct alternative:
(a) Alloys of metals usually have (greater/less) resistivity than that
of their constituent metals.
(b) Alloys usually have much (lower/higher) temperature
coefficients of resistance than pure metals.
(c) The resistivity of the alloy manganin is nearly independent of/
increases rapidly with increase of temperature.
(d) The resistivity of a typical insulator (e.g., amber) is greater than
that of a metal by a factor of the order of (1022/1023).
3.20 (a) Given n resistors each of resistance R, how will you combine
them to get the (i) maximum (ii) minimum effective resistance?
What is the ratio of the maximum to minimum resistance?
(b) Given the resistances of 1 Ω, 2 Ω, 3 Ω, how will be combine them
to get an equivalent resistance of (i) (11/3) Ω (ii) (11/5) Ω, (iii) 6
Ω, (iv) (6/11) Ω?
(c) Determine the equivalent resistance of networks shown in
Fig. 3.31. 129

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FIGURE 3.31

3.21 Determine the current drawn from a 12V supply with internal
resistance 0.5Ω by the infinite network shown in Fig. 3.32. Each
resistor has 1Ω resistance.

FIGURE 3.32

3.22 Figure 3.33 shows a potentiometer with a cell of 2.0 V and internal
resistance 0.40 Ω maintaining a potential drop across the resistor
wire AB. A standard cell which maintains a constant emf of 1.02 V
(for very moderate currents upto a few mA) gives a balance point at
67.3 cm length of the wire. To ensure very low currents drawn from
the standard cell, a very high resistance of 600 kΩ is put in series
with it, which is shorted close to the balance point. The standard
cell is then replaced by a cell of unknown emf ε and the balance
point found similarly, turns out to be at 82.3 cm length of the wire.

FIGURE 3.33

(a) What is the value ε ?


130 (b) What purpose does the high resistance of 600 kΩ have?

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(c) Is the balance point affected by this high resistance?
(d) Would the method work in the above situation if the driver cell
of the potentiometer had an emf of 1.0V instead of 2.0V?
(e) Would the circuit work well for determining an extremely small
emf, say of the order of a few mV (such as the typical emf of a
thermo-couple)? If not, how will you modify the circuit?

3.23 Figure 3.34 shows a 2.0 V potentiometer used for the determination
of internal resistance of a 1.5 V cell. The balance point of the cell in
open circuit is 76.3 cm. When a resistor of 9.5 Ω is used in the external
circuit of the cell, the balance point shifts to 64.8 cm length of the
potentiometer wire. Determine the internal resistance of the cell.

FIGURE 3.34

131

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Chapter Four

MOVING CHARGES
AND MAGNETISM

4.1 INTRODUCTION
Both Electricity and Magnetism have been known for more than 2000
years. However, it was only about 200 years ago, in 1820, that it was
realised that they were intimately related*. During a lecture demonstration
in the summer of 1820, Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted noticed
that a current in a straight wire caused a noticeable deflection in a nearby
magnetic compass needle. He investigated this phenomenon. He found
that the alignment of the needle is tangential to an imaginary circle which
has the straight wire as its centre and has its plane perpendicular to the
wire. This situation is depicted in Fig.4.1(a). It is noticeable when the
current is large and the needle sufficiently close to the wire so that the
earth’s magnetic field may be ignored. Reversing the direction of the
current reverses the orientation of the needle [Fig. 4.1(b)]. The deflection
increases on increasing the current or bringing the needle closer to the
wire. Iron filings sprinkled around the wire arrange themselves in
concentric circles with the wire as the centre [Fig. 4.1(c)]. Oersted
concluded that moving charges or currents produced a magnetic field
in the surrounding space.
Following this, there was intense experimentation. In 1864, the laws
obeyed by electricity and magnetism were unified and formulated by

132 * See the box in Chapter 1, Page 3.

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James Maxwell who then realised that light was electromagnetic waves.
Radio waves were discovered by Hertz, and produced by J.C.Bose and
G. Marconi by the end of the 19th century. A remarkable scientific and
technological progress took place in the 20th century. This was due to
our increased understanding of electromagnetism and the invention of
devices for production, amplification, transmission and detection of
electromagnetic waves.

FIGURE 4.1 The magnetic field due to a straight long current-carrying


wire. The wire is perpendicular to the plane of the paper. A ring of
compass needles surrounds the wire. The orientation of the needles is
shown when (a) the current emerges out of the plane of the paper,
(b) the current moves into the plane of the paper. (c) The arrangement of
iron filings around the wire. The darkened ends of the needle represent
north poles. The effect of the earth’s magnetic field is neglected.

In this chapter, we will see how magnetic field exerts


forces on moving charged particles, like electrons,

HANS CHRISTIAN OERSTED (1777–1851)


protons, and current-carrying wires. We shall also learn
how currents produce magnetic fields. We shall see how
particles can be accelerated to very high energies in a
cyclotron. We shall study how currents and voltages are
detected by a galvanometer.
In this and subsequent Chapter on magnetism,
we adopt the following convention: A current or a
field (electric or magnetic) emerging out of the plane of the
paper is depicted by a dot (¤). A current or a field going
into the plane of the paper is depicted by a cross ( ⊗ )*.
Figures. 4.1(a) and 4.1(b) correspond to these two Hans Christian Oersted
situations, respectively. (1777–1851) Danish
physicist and chemist,
4.2 MAGNETIC FORCE professor at Copenhagen.
He observed that a
4.2.1 Sources and fields compass needle suffers a
Before we introduce the concept of a magnetic field B, we deflection when placed
near a wire carrying an
shall recapitulate what we have learnt in Chapter 1 about
electric current. This
the electric field E. We have seen that the interaction discovery gave the first
between two charges can be considered in two stages. empirical evidence of a
The charge Q, the source of the field, produces an electric connection between electric
field E, where and magnetic phenomena.

* A dot appears like the tip of an arrow pointed at you, a cross is like the feathered
tail of an arrow moving away from you.
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E=Q / (4πε0)r2 (4.1)
where r̂ is unit vector along r, and the field E is a vector
field. A charge q interacts with this field and experiences
a force F given by
F = q E = q Q r̂ / (4πε0) r 2 (4.2)
As pointed out in the Chapter 1, the field E is not
just an artefact but has a physical role. It can convey
energy and momentum and is not established
instantaneously but takes finite time to propagate. The
concept of a field was specially stressed by Faraday and
was incorporated by Maxwell in his unification of
electricity and magnetism. In addition to depending on
each point in space, it can also vary with time, i.e., be a
HENDRIK ANTOON LORENTZ (1853 – 1928)

function of time. In our discussions in this chapter, we


Hendrik Antoon Lorentz will assume that the fields do not change with time.
(1853 – 1928) Dutch The field at a particular point can be due to one or
theoretical physicist, more charges. If there are more charges the fields add
professor at Leiden. He
vectorially. You have already learnt in Chapter 1 that
investigated the relationship
this is called the principle of superposition. Once the field
between electricity, magnetism,
and mechanics. In order to is known, the force on a test charge is given by Eq. (4.2).
explain the observed effect of Just as static charges produce an electric field, the
magnetic fields on emitters of currents or moving charges produce (in addition) a
light (Zeeman effect), he magnetic field, denoted by B (r), again a vector field. It
postulated the existence of has several basic properties identical to the electric field.
electric charges in the atom, It is defined at each point in space (and can in addition
for which he was awarded the
depend on time). Experimentally, it is found to obey the
Nobel Prize in 1902. He derived
a set of transformation
principle of superposition: the magnetic field of several
equations (known after him, sources is the vector addition of magnetic field of each
as Lorentz transformation individual source.
equations) by some tangled
mathematical arguments, but 4.2.2 Magnetic Field, Lorentz Force
he was not aware that these Let us suppose that there is a point charge q (moving
equations hinge on a new with a velocity v and, located at r at a given time t) in
concept of space and time.
presence of both the electric field E (r) and the magnetic
field B (r). The force on an electric charge q due to both
of them can be written as
F = q [ E (r) + v × B (r)] ≡ Felectric +Fmagnetic (4.3)
This force was given first by H.A. Lorentz based on the extensive
experiments of Ampere and others. It is called the Lorentz force. You
have already studied in detail the force due to the electric field. If we
look at the interaction with the magnetic field, we find the following
features.
(i) It depends on q, v and B (charge of the particle, the velocity and the
magnetic field). Force on a negative charge is opposite to that on a
positive charge.
(ii) The magnetic force q [ v × B ] includes a vector product of velocity
134 and magnetic field. The vector product makes the force due to magnetic

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Moving Charges and
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field vanish (become zero) if velocity and magnetic field are parallel
or anti-parallel. The force acts in a (sideways) direction perpendicular
to both the velocity and the magnetic field.
Its direction is given by the screw rule or
right hand rule for vector (or cross) product
as illustrated in Fig. 4.2.
(iii) The magnetic force is zero if charge is not
moving (as then |v|= 0). Only a moving
charge feels the magnetic force.
The expression for the magnetic force helps
us to define the unit of the magnetic field, if
one takes q, F and v, all to be unity in the force
FIGURE 4.2 The direction of the magnetic
equation F = q [ v × B] =q v B sin θ n̂ , where θ
force acting on a charged particle. (a) The
is the angle between v and B [see Fig. 4.2 (a)].
force on a positively charged particle with
The magnitude of magnetic field B is 1 SI unit, velocity v and making an angle θ with the
when the force acting on a unit charge (1 C), magnetic field B is given by the right-hand
moving perpendicular to B with a speed 1m/s, rule. (b) A moving charged particle q is
is one newton. deflected in an opposite sense to –q in the
Dimensionally, we have [B] = [F/qv] and the unit presence of magnetic field.
of B are Newton second / (coulomb metre). This
unit is called tesla ( T ) named after Nikola Tesla
(1856 – 1943). Tesla is a rather large unit. A smaller unit (non-SI) called
gauss (=10–4 tesla) is also often used. The earth’s magnetic field is about
3.6 × 10–5 T. Table 4.1 lists magnetic fields over a wide range in the
universe.

TABLE 4.1 ORDER OF MAGNITUDES OF MAGNETIC FIELDS IN A VARIETY OF PHYSICAL SITUATIONS

Physical situation Magnitude of B (in tesla)

Surface of a neutron star 108


Typical large field in a laboratory 1
Near a small bar magnet 10 –2
On the earth’s surface 10 –5
Human nerve fibre 10 –10
Interstellar space 10 –12

4.2.3 Magnetic force on a current-carrying conductor


We can extend the analysis for force due to magnetic field on a single
moving charge to a straight rod carrying current. Consider a rod of a
uniform cross-sectional area A and length l. We shall assume one kind
of mobile carriers as in a conductor (here electrons). Let the number
density of these mobile charge carriers in it be n. Then the total number
of mobile charge carriers in it is nlA. For a steady current I in this
conducting rod, we may assume that each mobile carrier has an average 135

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drift velocity vd (see Chapter 3). In the presence of an external magnetic
field B, the force on these carriers is:
F = (nlA)q vd × B
where q is the value of the charge on a carrier. Now nq vd is the current
density j and |(nq vd )|A is the current I (see Chapter 3 for the discussion
of current and current density). Thus,
F = [(nq vd )l A] × B = [ jAl ] × B
= Il × B (4.4)
where l is a vector of magnitude l, the length of the rod, and with a direction
identical to the current I. Note that the current I is not a vector. In the last
step leading to Eq. (4.4), we have transferred the vector sign from j to l.
Equation (4.4) holds for a straight rod. In this equation, B is the external
magnetic field. It is not the field produced by the current-carrying rod. If
the wire has an arbitrary shape we can calculate the Lorentz force on it
by considering it as a collection of linear strips dlj and summing
F = ∑ Idl j × B
j

This summation can be converted to an integral in most cases.

ON PERMITTIVITY AND PERMEABILITY

In the universal law of gravitation, we say that any two point masses exert a force on
each other which is proportional to the product of the masses m1, m2 and inversely
proportional to the square of the distance r between them. We write it as F = Gm1m2/r 2
where G is the universal constant of gravitation. Similarly, in Coulomb’s law of electrostatics
we write the force between two point charges q1, q2, separated by a distance r as
F = kq1q 2/r 2 where k is a constant of proportionality. In SI units, k is taken as
1/4πε where ε is the permittivity of the medium. Also in magnetism, we get another
constant, which in SI units, is taken as µ/4π where µ is the permeability of the medium.
Although G, ε and µ arise as proportionality constants, there is a difference between
gravitational force and electromagnetic force. While the gravitational force does not depend
on the intervening medium, the electromagnetic force depends on the medium between
the two charges or magnets. Hence, while G is a universal constant, ε and µ depend on
the medium. They have different values for different media. The product εµ turns out to
be related to the speed v of electromagnetic radiation in the medium through εµ =1/ v 2.
Electric permittivity ε is a physical quantity that describes how an electric field affects
and is affected by a medium. It is determined by the ability of a material to polarise in
response to an applied field, and thereby to cancel, partially, the field inside the material.
Similarly, magnetic permeability µ is the ability of a substance to acquire magnetisation in
magnetic fields. It is a measure of the extent to which magnetic field can penetrate matter.
EXAMPLE 4.1

Example 4.1 A straight wire of mass 200 g and length 1.5 m carries
a current of 2 A. It is suspended in mid-air by a uniform horizontal
magnetic field B (Fig. 4.3). What is the magnitude of the magnetic
field?
136

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Moving Charges and
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FIGURE 4.3

Solution From Eq. (4.4), we find that there is an upward force F, of


magnitude IlB,. For mid-air suspension, this must be balanced by
the force due to gravity:
m g = I lB
mg
B=
Il

EXAMPLE 4.1

http://www.phys.hawaii.edu/~teb/optics/java/partmagn/index.html
Interactive demonstration:
Charged particles moving in a magnetic field.
0.2 × 9.8
= = 0.65 T
2 × 1.5
Note that it would have been sufficient to specify m/l, the mass per
unit length of the wire. The earth’s magnetic field is approximately
4 × 10–5 T and we have ignored it.

Example 4.2 If the magnetic field is parallel to the positive y-axis


and the charged particle is moving along the positive x-axis (Fig. 4.4),
which way would the Lorentz force be for (a) an electron (negative
charge), (b) a proton (positive charge).

FIGURE 4.4
EXAMPLE 4.2

Solution The velocity v of particle is along the x-axis, while B, the


magnetic field is along the y-axis, so v × B is along the z-axis (screw
rule or right-hand thumb rule). So, (a) for electron it will be along –z
axis. (b) for a positive charge (proton) the force is along +z axis.

4.3 MOTION IN A MAGNETIC FIELD


We will now consider, in greater detail, the motion of a charge moving in
a magnetic field. We have learnt in Mechanics (see Class XI book, Chapter
6) that a force on a particle does work if the force has a component along
(or opposed to) the direction of motion of the particle. In the case of motion 137

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of a charge in a magnetic field, the magnetic force is
perpendicular to the velocity of the particle. So no work is done
and no change in the magnitude of the velocity is produced
(though the direction of momentum may be changed). [Notice
that this is unlike the force due to an electric field, q E, which
can have a component parallel (or antiparallel) to motion and
thus can transfer energy in addition to momentum.]
We shall consider motion of a charged particle in a uniform
magnetic field. First consider the case of v perpendicular to B.
The perpendicular force, q v × B, acts as a centripetal force and
produces a circular motion perpendicular to the magnetic field.
The particle will describe a circle if v and B are perpendicular
to each other (Fig. 4.5).
If velocity has a component along B, this component
FIGURE 4.5 Circular motion
remains unchanged as the motion along the magnetic field will
not be affected by the magnetic field. The motion
in a plane perpendicular to B is as before a
circular one, thereby producing a helical motion
(Fig. 4.6).
You have already learnt in earlier classes
(See Class XI, Chapter 4) that if r is the radius
of the circular path of a particle, then a force of
m v2 / r, acts perpendicular to the path towards
the centre of the circle, and is called the
centripetal force. If the velocity v is
perpendicular to the magnetic field B, the
magnetic force is perpendicular to both v and
B and acts like a centripetal force. It has a
magnitude q v B. Equating the two expressions
for centripetal force,
m v 2/r = q v B, which gives
r = m v / qB (4.5)
FIGURE 4.6 Helical motion for the radius of the circle described by the
charged particle. The larger the momentum,
the larger is the radius and bigger the circle described. If ω is the angular
frequency, then v = ω r. So,
ω = 2π ν = q B/ m [4.6(a)]
which is independent of the velocity or energy . Here ν is the frequency of
rotation. The independence of ν from energy has important application
in the design of a cyclotron (see Section 4.4.2).
The time taken for one revolution is T= 2π/ω ≡ 1/ν. If there is a
component of the velocity parallel to the magnetic field (denoted by v||), it
will make the particle move along the field and the path of the particle
would be a helical one (Fig. 4.6). The distance moved along the magnetic
field in one rotation is called pitch p. Using Eq. [4.6 (a)], we have
p = v||T = 2πm v|| / q B [4.6(b)]
The radius of the circular component of motion is called the radius of
138 the helix.

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Example 4.3 What is the radius of the path of an electron (mass


9 × 10-31 kg and charge 1.6 × 10–19 C) moving at a speed of 3 ×107 m/s in
a magnetic field of 6 × 10–4 T perpendicular to it? What is its
frequency? Calculate its energy in keV. ( 1 eV = 1.6 × 10–19 J).
Solution Using Eq. (4.5) we find

EXAMPLE 4.3
r = m v / (qB ) = 9 ×10–31 kg × 3 × 107 m s–1 / ( 1.6 × 10–19 C × 6 × 10–4 T )
= 26 × 10–2 m = 26 cm
ν = v / (2 πr) = 2×106 s–1 = 2×106 Hz =2 MHz.
E = (½ )mv 2 = (½ ) 9 × 10–31 kg × 9 × 1014 m2/s2 = 40.5 ×10–17 J
–16
≈ 4×10 J = 2.5 keV.

HELICAL MOTION OF CHARGED PARTICLES AND AURORA BOREALIS

In polar regions like Alaska and Northern Canada, a splendid display of colours is seen
in the sky. The appearance of dancing green pink lights is fascinating, and equally
puzzling. An explanation of this natural phenomenon is now found in physics, in terms
of what we have studied here.
Consider a charged particle of mass m and charge q, entering a region of magnetic
field B with an initial velocity v. Let this velocity have a component vp parallel to the
magnetic field and a component vn normal to it. There is no force on a charged particle in
the direction of the field. Hence the particle continues to travel with the velocity vp parallel
to the field. The normal component vn of the particle results in a Lorentz force (vn × B)
which is perpendicular to both vn and B. As seen in Section 4.3.1 the particle thus has a
tendency to perform a circular motion in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic field.
When this is coupled with the velocity parallel to the field, the resulting trajectory will be
a helix along the magnetic field line, as shown in Figure (a) here. Even if the field line
bends, the helically moving particle is trapped and guided to move around the field line.
Since the Lorentz force is normal to the velocity of each point, the field does no work on
the particle and the magnitude of velocity remains the same.

During a solar flare, a large number of electrons and protons are ejected from the sun.
Some of them get trapped in the earth’s magnetic field and move in helical paths along the
field lines. The field lines come closer to each other near the magnetic poles; see figure (b).
Hence the density of charges increases near the poles. These particles collide with atoms
and molecules of the atmosphere. Excited oxygen atoms emit green light and excited
nitrogen atoms emits pink light. This phenomenon is called Aurora Borealis in physics.

139

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4.4 MOTION IN COMBINED ELECTRIC AND MAGNETIC
FIELDS
4.4.1 Velocity selector
You know that a charge q moving with velocity v in presence of both
electric and magnetic fields experiences a force given by Eq. (4.3), that is,
F = q (E + v × B) = FE + FB
We shall consider the simple case in which electric and magnetic
fields are perpendicular to each other and also perpendicular to
the velocity of the particle, as shown in Fig. 4.7. We have,
E = E ˆj, B = B kˆ , v = v ˆi
E
ˆ
B (
F = qE = qE j, F = qv × B, = q v ˆi × Bk )
ˆ = –qB ˆj
Therefore, F = q ( E – vB ) ˆj .
Thus, electric and magnetic forces are in opposite directions as
shown in the figure. Suppose, we adjust the value of E and B such
that magnitudes of the two forces are equal. Then, total force on
FIGURE 4.7 the charge is zero and the charge will move in the fields undeflected.
This happens when,
E
qE = qvB or v = (4.7)
B
http://www.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/ntnujava/index.php?topic=33.0

This condition can be used to select charged particles of a particular


velocity out of a beam containing charges moving with different speeds
(irrespective of their charge and mass). The crossed E and B fields, therefore,
serve as a velocity selector. Only particles with speed E/B pass
undeflected through the region of crossed fields. This method was
employed by J. J. Thomson in 1897 to measure the charge to mass ratio
(e/m) of an electron. The principle is also employed in Mass Spectrometer –
a device that separates charged particles, usually ions, according to their
charge to mass ratio.

4.4.2 Cyclotron
Interactive demonstration:

The cyclotron is a machine to accelerate charged particles or ions to high


energies. It was invented by E.O. Lawrence and M.S. Livingston in 1934
to investigate nuclear structure. The cyclotron uses both electric and
magnetic fields in combination to increase the energy of charged particles.
As the fields are perpendicular to each other they are called crossed
fields. Cyclotron uses the fact that the frequency of revolution of the
Cyclotron

charged particle in a magnetic field is independent of its energy. The


particles move most of the time inside two semicircular disc-like metal
containers, D1 and D2, which are called dees as they look like the letter
D. Figure 4.8 shows a schematic view of the cyclotron. Inside the metal
boxes the particle is shielded and is not acted on by the electric field. The
magnetic field, however, acts on the particle and makes it go round in a
circular path inside a dee. Every time the particle moves from one dee to
another it is acted upon by the electric field. The sign of the electric field
is changed alternately in tune with the circular motion of the particle.
This ensures that the particle is always accelerated by the electric field.
140 Each time the acceleration increases the energy of the particle. As energy

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increases, the radius of the circular path increases. So the path is a
spiral one.
The whole assembly is evacuated to minimise collisions between the
ions and the air molecules. A high frequency alternating voltage is applied
to the dees. In the sketch shown in Fig. 4.8, positive ions or positively
charged particles (e.g., protons) are released at the centre P. They move
in a semi-circular path in one of the dees and arrive in the gap between
the dees in a time interval T/2; where T, the period of revolution, is given
by Eq. (4.6),
1 2πm
T = =
νc qB

qB
or ν c = (4.8)
2 πm
This frequency is called the cyclotron frequency for obvious reasons
and is denoted by νc .
The frequency νa of the applied voltage is adjusted so that the polarity
of the dees is reversed in the same time that it takes the ions to complete
one half of the revolution. The requirement νa = νc is called the resonance
condition. The phase of the supply is adjusted so that when the positive
ions arrive at the edge of D1, D2 is at a lower
potential and the ions are accelerated across the
gap. Inside the dees the particles travel in a region
free of the electric field. The increase in their
kinetic energy is qV each time they cross from
one dee to another (V refers to the voltage across
the dees at that time). From Eq. (4.5), it is clear
that the radius of their path goes on increasing
each time their kinetic energy increases. The ions
are repeatedly accelerated across the dees until
they have the required energy to have a radius
approximately that of the dees. They are then
deflected by a magnetic field and leave the system
via an exit slit. From Eq. (4.5) we have,
qBR
v= (4.9)
m
where R is the radius of the trajectory at exit, and
equals the radius of a dee.
Hence, the kinetic energy of the ions is, FIGURE 4.8 A schematic sketch of the
cyclotron. There is a source of charged
1 q 2 B 2R 2 particles or ions at P which move in a
mv 2 = (4.10)
2 2m circular fashion in the dees, D1 and D2, on
account of a uniform perpendicular
The operation of the cyclotron is based on the magnetic field B. An alternating voltage
fact that the time for one revolution of an ion is source accelerates these ions to high
independent of its speed or radius of its orbit. speeds. The ions are eventually ‘extracted’
The cyclotron is used to bombard nuclei with at the exit port.
energetic particles, so accelerated by it, and study 141

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the resulting nuclear reactions. It is also used to implant ions into solids
and modify their properties or even synthesise new materials. It is used
in hospitals to produce radioactive substances which can be used in
diagnosis and treatment.

Example 4.4 A cyclotron’s oscillator frequency is 10 MHz. What


should be the operating magnetic field for accelerating protons? If
the radius of its ‘dees’ is 60 cm, what is the kinetic energy (in MeV) of
the proton beam produced by the accelerator.
(e =1.60 × 10–19 C, mp = 1.67 × 10–27 kg, 1 MeV = 1.6 × 10–13 J).
Solution The oscillator frequency should be same as proton’s
cyclotron frequency.
Using Eqs. (4.5) and [4.6(a)] we have
EXAMPLE 4.4

B = 2π m ν/q =6.3 ×1.67 × 10–27 × 107 / (1.6 × 10–19) = 0.66 T


Final velocity of protons is
v = r × 2π ν = 0.6 m × 6.3 ×107 = 3.78 × 107 m/s.
2
E = ½ mv = 1.67 ×10–27 × 14.3 × 1014 / (2 × 1.6 × 10–13) = 7 MeV.

ACCELERATORS IN INDIA

India has been an early entrant in the area of accelerator-based research. The vision of
Dr. Meghnath Saha created a 37" Cyclotron in the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in
Kolkata in 1953. This was soon followed by a series of Cockroft-Walton type of accelerators
established in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, Aligarh Muslim
University (AMU), Aligarh, Bose Institute, Kolkata and Andhra University, Waltair.
The sixties saw the commissioning of a number of Van de Graaff accelerators: a 5.5 MV
terminal machine in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai (1963); a 2 MV terminal
machine in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur; a 400 kV terminal machine in Banaras
Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi; and Punjabi University, Patiala. One 66 cm Cyclotron
donated by the Rochester University of USA was commissioned in Panjab University,
Chandigarh. A small electron accelerator was also established in University of Pune, Pune.
In a major initiative taken in the seventies and eighties, a Variable Energy Cyclotron was
built indigenously in Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata; 2 MV Tandem Van
de Graaff accelerator was developed and built in BARC and a 14 MV Tandem Pelletron
accelerator was installed in TIFR.
This was soon followed by a 15 MV Tandem Pelletron established by University Grants
Commission (UGC), as an inter-university facility in Inter-University Accelerator Centre
(IUAC), New Delhi; a 3 MV Tandem Pelletron in Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar; and two
1.7 MV Tandetrons in Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, Hyderabad
and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam. Both TIFR and IUAC are
augmenting their facilities with the addition of superconducting LINAC modules to accelerate
the ions to higher energies.
Besides these ion accelerators, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has developed
many electron accelerators. A 2 GeV Synchrotron Radiation Source is being built in Raja
Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technologies, Indore.
The Department of Atomic Energy is considering Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) for
power production and fissile material breeding as future options.

142

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4.5 MAGNETIC FIELD DUE TO A CURRENT ELEMENT,


BIOT-SAVART LAW
All magnetic fields that we know are due to currents (or moving charges)
and due to intrinsic magnetic moments of particles. Here, we
shall study the relation between current and the magnetic field
it produces. It is given by the Biot-Savart’s law. Figure 4.9 shows
a finite conductor XY carrying current I. Consider an infinitesimal
element dl of the conductor. The magnetic field dB due to this
element is to be determined at a point P which is at a distance r
from it. Let θ be the angle between dl and the displacement vector
r. According to Biot-Savart’s law, the magnitude of the magnetic
field dB is proportional to the current I, the element length |dl|,
and inversely proportional to the square of the distance r. Its
direction* is perpendicular to the plane containing dl and r .
Thus, in vector notation,
I dl ×r
dB ∝
r3 FIGURE 4.9 Illustration of
the Biot-Savart law. The
µ0 I d l × r
= [4.11(a)] current element I dl
4π r3 produces a field dB at a
where µ 0/4π is a constant of proportionality. The above distance r. The ⊗ sign
expression holds when the medium is vacuum. indicates that the
field is perpendicular
The magnitude of this field is,
to the plane of this
µ0 I dl sin θ page and directed
dB = [4.11(b)]
4π r2 into it.
where we have used the property of cross-product. Equation [4.11 (a)]
constitutes our basic equation for the magnetic field. The proportionality
constant in SI units has the exact value,
µ0
= 10 −7 Tm/A [4.11(c)]

We call µ0 the permeability of free space (or vacuum).
The Biot-Savart law for the magnetic field has certain similarities, as
well as, differences with the Coulomb’s law for the electrostatic field. Some
of these are:
(i) Both are long range, since both depend inversely on the square of
distance from the source to the point of interest. The principle of
superposition applies to both fields. [In this connection, note that
the magnetic field is linear in the source I dl just as the electrostatic
field is linear in its source: the electric charge.]
(ii) The electrostatic field is produced by a scalar source, namely, the
electric charge. The magnetic field is produced by a vector source
I dl.

* The sense of dl × r is also given by the Right Hand Screw rule : Look at the
plane containing vectors dl and r. Imagine moving from the first vector towards
second vector. If the movement is anticlockwise, the resultant is towards you.
If it is clockwise, the resultant is away from you. 143

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(iii) The electrostatic field is along the displacement vector joining the
source and the field point. The magnetic field is perpendicular to the
plane containing the displacement vector r and the current element
I dl.
(iv) There is an angle dependence in the Biot-Savart law which is not
present in the electrostatic case. In Fig. 4.9, the magnetic field at any
point in the direction of dl (the dashed line) is zero. Along this line,
θ = 0, sin θ = 0 and from Eq. [4.11(a)], |dB| = 0.
There is an interesting relation between ε0, the permittivity of free
space; µ , the permeability of free space; and c, the speed of light in
0

vacuum:
µ0 1 1 1
ε 0 µ0 = ( 4 π ε 0 )

=
9 × 109
(10 ) = (3 × 10
−7
8 2
)
=
c2
We will discuss this connection further in Chapter 8 on the
electromagnetic waves. Since the speed of light in vacuum is constant,
the product µ0ε0 is fixed in magnitude. Choosing the value of either ε0 or
µ0, fixes the value of the other. In SI units, µ0 is fixed to be equal to
4π × 10–7 in magnitude.

Example 4.5 An element ∆l = ∆x ˆi is placed at the origin and carries


a large current I = 10 A (Fig. 4.10). What is the magnetic field on the
y-axis at a distance of 0.5 m. ∆x = 1 cm.

FIGURE 4.10
Solution
µ 0 I dl sin θ
|dB | = [using Eq. (4.11)]
4π r2
Tm
dl = ∆x = 10 −2 m , I = 10 A, r = 0.5 m = y, µ0 / 4 π = 10 −7
A
θ = 90° ; sin θ = 1
10−7 × 10 × 10 −2
dB = = 4 × 10–8 T
25 × 10 −2
The direction of the field is in the +z-direction. This is so since,
EXAMPLE 4.5

( )
dl × r = ∆x ˆi × y ˆj = y ∆x ˆi × ˆj = y ∆x k
ˆ
We remind you of the following cyclic property of cross-products,
ˆi × ˆj = k
ˆ ; ˆj × k
ˆ = ˆi ; k
ˆ × ˆi = ˆj

144 Note that the field is small in magnitude.

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In the next section, we shall use the Biot-Savart law to calculate the
magnetic field due to a circular loop.

4.6 MAGNETIC FIELD ON THE AXIS OF A CIRCULAR


CURRENT LOOP
In this section, we shall evaluate the magnetic field due to a circular coil
along its axis. The evaluation entails summing up the effect of infinitesimal
current elements (I dl) mentioned in the previous section.
We assume that the current I is steady and that the
evaluation is carried out in free space (i.e., vacuum).
Figure 4.11 depicts a circular loop carrying a steady
current I. The loop is placed in the y-z plane with its
centre at the origin O and has a radius R. The x-axis is
the axis of the loop. We wish to calculate the magnetic
field at the point P on this axis. Let x be the distance of
P from the centre O of the loop.
Consider a conducting element dl of the loop. This is
shown in Fig. 4.11. The magnitude dB of the magnetic
field due to dl is given by the Biot-Savart law [Eq. 4.11(a)],
µ0 I dl × r
dB = (4.12)
4π r3
FIGURE 4.11 Magnetic field on the
Now r 2 = x 2 + R 2 . Further, any element of the loop
axis of a current carrying circular
will be perpendicular to the displacement vector from loop of radius R. Shown are the
the element to the axial point. For example, the element magnetic field dB (due to a line
dl in Fig. 4.11 is in the y-z plane, whereas, the element dl ) and its
displacement vector r from dl to the axial point P is in components along and
the x-y plane. Hence |dl × r|=r dl. Thus, perpendicular to the axis.
µ0 Idl
dB = (4.13)
(
4π x 2 + R 2 )
The direction of dB is shown in Fig. 4.11. It is perpendicular to the
plane formed by dl and r. It has an x-component dBx and a component
perpendicular to x-axis, dB⊥. When the components perpendicular to
the x-axis are summed over, they cancel out and we obtain a null result.
For example, the dB⊥ component due to dl is cancelled by the contribution
due to the diametrically opposite dl element, shown in
Fig. 4.11. Thus, only the x-component survives. The net contribution
along x-direction can be obtained by integrating dBx = dB cos θ over the
loop. For Fig. 4.11,
R
cos θ = (4.14)
( x 2 + R 2 )1/ 2
From Eqs. (4.13) and (4.14),
µ0 Idl R
d Bx = 3 /2
4π (x 2
+ R2 ) 145

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The summation of elements dl over the loop yields 2πR, the
circumference of the loop. Thus, the magnetic field at P due to entire
circular loop is
µ0 I R 2
B = B x ˆi = 3/2
ˆi
(4.15)
(
2 x 2 + R2 )
As a special case of the above result, we may obtain the field at the centre
of the loop. Here x = 0, and we obtain,
µ I
B0 = 0 ˆi (4.16)
2R
The magnetic field lines due to a circular wire form closed loops and
are shown in Fig. 4.12. The direction of the magnetic field is given by
(another) right-hand thumb rule stated below:
Curl the palm of your right hand around the circular wire with the
fingers pointing in the direction of the current. The right-hand thumb
gives the direction of the magnetic field.

FIGURE 4.12 The magnetic field lines for a current loop. The direction of
the field is given by the right-hand thumb rule described in the text. The
upper side of the loop may be thought of as the north pole and the lower
side as the south pole of a magnet.

Example 4.6 A straight wire carrying a current of 12 A is bent into a


semi-circular arc of radius 2.0 cm as shown in Fig. 4.13(a). Consider
the magnetic field B at the centre of the arc. (a) What is the magnetic
field due to the straight segments? (b) In what way the contribution
to B from the semicircle differs from that of a circular loop and in
what way does it resemble? (c) Would your answer be different if the
wire were bent into a semi-circular arc of the same radius but in the
opposite way as shown in Fig. 4.13(b)?
EXAMPLE 4.6

146 FIGURE 4.13

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Solution
(a) dl and r for each element of the straight segments are parallel.
Therefore, dl × r = 0. Straight segments do not contribute to
|B|.
(b) For all segments of the semicircular arc, dl × r are all parallel to
each other (into the plane of the paper). All such contributions

EXAMPLE 4.6
add up in magnitude. Hence direction of B for a semicircular arc
is given by the right-hand rule and magnitude is half that of a
circular loop. Thus B is 1.9 × 10–4 T normal to the plane of the
paper going into it.
(c) Same magnitude of B but opposite in direction to that in (b).

Example 4.7 Consider a tightly wound 100 turn coil of radius 10 cm,
carrying a current of 1 A. What is the magnitude of the magnetic
field at the centre of the coil?
Solution Since the coil is tightly wound, we may take each circular

EXAMPLE 4.7
element to have the same radius R = 10 cm = 0.1 m. The number of
turns N = 100. The magnitude of the magnetic field is,
µ0 NI 4 π × 10 –7 × 102 × 1 −4
B= = = 2π × 10 −4 = 6.28 × 10 T
2R 2 × 10 –1

4.7 AMPERE’S CIRCUITAL LAW


There is an alternative and appealing way in which the Biot-Savart law
may be expressed. Ampere’s circuital law considers an open surface with
a boundary (Fig. 4.14). The surface has current passing through
it. We consider the boundary to be made up of a number of small
line elements. Consider one such element of length dl. We take
the value of the tangential component of the magnetic field, Bt, at
this element and multiply it by the length of that element dl [Note:
Btdl=B.d l]. All such products are added together. We consider
the limit as the lengths of elements get smaller and their number
gets larger. The sum then tends to an integral. Ampere’s law
states that this integral is equal to µ0 times the total current
FIGURE 4.14
passing through the surface, i.e.,

“B..ddll = µ I
0 [4.17(a)]

where I is the total current through the surface. The integral is taken
over the closed loop coinciding with the boundary C of the surface. The
relation above involves a sign-convention, given by the right-hand rule.
Let the fingers of the right-hand be curled in the sense the boundary is

traversed in the loop integral B.dl. Then the direction of the thumb
gives the sense in which the current I is regarded as positive.
For several applications, a much simplified version of Eq. [4.17(a)]
proves sufficient. We shall assume that, in such cases, it is possible to
choose the loop (called an amperian loop) such that at each point of the
loop, either 147

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(i) B is tangential to the loop and is a non-zero constant
B, or
(ii) B is normal to the loop, or
(iii) B vanishes.
Now, let L be the length (part) of the loop for which B
is tangential. Let Ie be the current enclosed by the loop.
Then, Eq. (4.17) reduces to,
BL =µ0Ie [4.17(b)]
When there is a system with a symmetry such as for
a straight infinite current-carrying wire in Fig. 4.15, the
Ampere’s law enables an easy evaluation of the magnetic
field, much the same way Gauss’ law helps in
determination of the electric field. This is exhibited in the
Andre Ampere (1775 – Example 4.9 below. The boundary of the loop chosen is
1836) Andre Marie Ampere a circle and magnetic field is tangential to the
was a French physicist, circumference of the circle. The law gives, for the left hand
mathematician and chemist side of Eq. [4.17 (b)], B. 2πr. We find that the magnetic
who founded the science of field at a distance r outside the wire is tangential and
electrodynamics. Ampere given by
was a child prodigy
who mastered advanced B × 2πr = µ0 I,
mathematics by the age of
B = µ0 I/ (2πr) (4.18)
12. Ampere grasped the
significance of Oersted’s The above result for the infinite wire is interesting
discovery. He carried out a from several points of view.
large series of experiments (i) It implies that the field at every point on a circle of
to explore the relationship radius r, (with the wire along the axis), is same in
between current electricity magnitude. In other words, the magnetic field
and magnetism. These possesses what is called a cylindrical symmetry. The
investigations culminated
field that normally can depend on three coordinates
ANDRE AMPERE (1775 –1836)

in 1827 with the


publication of the
depends only on one: r. Whenever there is symmetry,
‘Mathematical Theory of the solutions simplify.
Electrodynamic Pheno- (ii) The field direction at any point on this circle is
mena Deduced Solely from tangential to it. Thus, the lines of constant magnitude
Experiments’. He hypo- of magnetic field form concentric circles. Notice now,
thesised that all magnetic in Fig. 4.1(c), the iron filings form concentric circles.
phenomena are due to These lines called magnetic field lines form closed
circulating electric loops. This is unlike the electrostatic field lines which
currents. Ampere was
originate from positive charges and end at negative
humble and absent-
minded. He once forgot an
charges. The expression for the magnetic field of a
invitation to dine with the straight wire provides a theoretical justification to
Emperor Napoleon. He died Oersted’s experiments.
of pneumonia at the age of (iii) Another interesting point to note is that even though
61. His gravestone bears the wire is infinite, the field due to it at a non-zero
the epitaph: Tandem Felix distance is not infinite. It tends to blow up only when
(Happy at last). we come very close to the wire. The field is directly
proportional to the current and inversely proportional
to the distance from the (infinitely long) current
148 source.

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(iv) There exists a simple rule to determine the direction of the magnetic
field due to a long wire. This rule, called the right-hand rule*, is:
Grasp the wire in your right hand with your extended thumb pointing
in the direction of the current. Your fingers will curl around in the
direction of the magnetic field.
Ampere’s circuital law is not new in content from Biot-Savart law.
Both relate the magnetic field and the current, and both express the same
physical consequences of a steady electrical current. Ampere’s law is to
Biot-Savart law, what Gauss’s law is to Coulomb’s law. Both, Ampere’s
and Gauss’s law relate a physical quantity on the periphery or boundary
(magnetic or electric field) to another physical quantity, namely, the source,
in the interior (current or charge). We also note that Ampere’s circuital
law holds for steady currents which do not fluctuate with time. The
following example will help us understand what is meant by the term
enclosed current.

Example 4.8 Figure 4.15 shows a long straight wire of a circular


cross-section (radius a) carrying steady current I. The current I is
uniformly distributed across this cross-section. Calculate the
magnetic field in the region r < a and r > a.

FIGURE 4.15

Solution (a) Consider the case r > a . The Amperian loop, labelled 2,
is a circle concentric with the cross-section. For this loop,
L =2πr
Ie = Current enclosed by the loop = I
The result is the familiar expression for a long straight wire
B (2π r) = µ0I
µ0 I
B= [4.19(a)]
2πr

1
EXAMPLE 4.8

B∝ (r > a)
r
(b) Consider the case r < a. The Amperian loop is a circle labelled 1.
For this loop, taking the radius of the circle to be r,
L =2πr

* Note that there are two distinct right-hand rules: One which gives the direction
of B on the axis of current-loop and the other which gives direction of B
for a straight conducting wire. Fingers and thumb play different roles in
the two.
149

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Now the current enclosed I e is not I, but is less than this value.
Since the current distribution is uniform, the current enclosed is,
 πr 2  Ir 2
Ie = I  2  =
 πa  a2

I r2
Using Ampere’s law, B (2 π r ) = µ0
a2

 µ I 
B =  0 2 r [4.19(b)]
 2 πa 
B ∝r (r < a)

FIGURE 4.16

Figure (4.16) shows a plot of the magnitude of B with distance r


from the centre of the wire. The direction of the field is tangential to
EXAMPLE 4.8

the respective circular loop (1 or 2) and given by the right-hand


rule described earlier in this section.
This example possesses the required symmetry so that Ampere’s
law can be applied readily.

It should be noted that while Ampere’s circuital law holds for any
loop, it may not always facilitate an evaluation of the magnetic field in
every case. For example, for the case of the circular loop discussed in
Section 4.6, it cannot be applied to extract the simple expression
B = µ0I/2R [Eq. (4.16)] for the field at the centre of the loop. However,
there exists a large number of situations of high symmetry where the law
can be conveniently applied. We shall use it in the next section to calculate
the magnetic field produced by two commonly used and very useful
magnetic systems: the solenoid and the toroid.

4.8 THE SOLENOID AND THE TOROID


The solenoid and the toroid are two pieces of equipment which generate
magnetic fields. The television uses the solenoid to generate magnetic
fields needed. The synchrotron uses a combination of both to generate
the high magnetic fields required. In both, solenoid and toroid, we come
across a situation of high symmetry where Ampere’s law can be
150 conveniently applied.

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4.8.1 The solenoid
We shall discuss a long solenoid. By long solenoid we mean that the
solenoid’s length is large compared to its radius. It consists of a long
wire wound in the form of a helix where the neighbouring turns are closely
spaced. So each turn can be regarded as a circular loop. The net magnetic
field is the vector sum of the fields due to all the turns. Enamelled wires
are used for winding so that turns are insulated from each other.

FIGURE 4.17 (a) The magnetic field due to a section of the solenoid which has been
stretched out for clarity. Only the exterior semi-circular part is shown. Notice
how the circular loops between neighbouring turns tend to cancel.
(b) The magnetic field of a finite solenoid.
Figure 4.17 displays the magnetic field lines for a finite solenoid. We
show a section of this solenoid in an enlarged manner in Fig. 4.17(a).
Figure 4.17(b) shows the entire finite solenoid with its magnetic field. In
Fig. 4.17(a), it is clear from the circular loops that the field between two
neighbouring turns vanishes. In Fig. 4.17(b), we see that the field at the
interior mid-point P is uniform, strong and along the axis of the solenoid.
The field at the exterior mid-point Q is weak and moreover is along the
axis of the solenoid with no perpendicular or normal component. As the
solenoid is made longer it appears like a long cylindrical metal sheet.
Figure 4.18 represents this idealised picture. The field outside the solenoid
approaches zero. We shall assume that the field outside is zero. The field
inside becomes everywhere parallel to the axis.

FIGURE 4.18 The magnetic field of a very long solenoid. We consider a


rectangular Amperian loop abcd to determine the field. 151

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Consider a rectangular Amperian loop abcd. Along cd the field is zero
as argued above. Along transverse sections bc and ad, the field component
is zero. Thus, these two sections make no contribution. Let the field along
ab be B. Thus, the relevant length of the Amperian loop is, L = h.
Let n be the number of turns per unit length, then the total number
of turns is nh. The enclosed current is, Ie = I (n h), where I is the current
in the solenoid. From Ampere’s circuital law [Eq. 4.17 (b)]
BL = µ0Ie, B h = µ0I (n h)
B = µ0 n I (4.20)
The direction of the field is given by the right-hand rule. The solenoid
is commonly used to obtain a uniform magnetic field. We shall see in the
next chapter that a large field is possible by inserting a soft
iron core inside the solenoid.

4.8.2 The toroid


The toroid is a hollow circular ring on which a large number
of turns of a wire are closely wound. It can be viewed as a
solenoid which has been bent into a circular shape to close
on itself. It is shown in Fig. 4.19(a) carrying a current I. We
shall see that the magnetic field in the open space inside
(point P) and exterior to the toroid (point Q) is zero. The
field B inside the toroid is constant in magnitude for the
ideal toroid of closely wound turns.
Figure 4.19(b) shows a sectional view of the toroid. The
direction of the magnetic field inside is clockwise as per the
right-hand thumb rule for circular loops. Three circular
Amperian loops 1, 2 and 3 are shown by dashed lines. By
symmetry, the magnetic field should be tangential to each
of them and constant in magnitude for a given loop. The
circular areas bounded by loops 2 and 3 both cut the toroid:
so that each turn of current carrying wire is cut once by
the loop 2 and twice by the loop 3.
Let the magnetic field along loop 1 be B1 in magnitude.
Then in Ampere’s circuital law [Eq. 4.17(a)], L = 2π r1.
However, the loop encloses no current, so Ie = 0. Thus,
B1 (2 π r1) = µ0(0), B1 = 0
FIGURE 4.19 (a) A toroid carrying Thus, the magnetic field at any point P in the open space
a current I. (b) A sectional view of
inside the toroid is zero.
the toroid. The magnetic field can
be obtained at an arbitrary
We shall now show that magnetic field at Q is likewise
distance r from the centre O of zero. Let the magnetic field along loop 3 be B3. Once again
the toroid by Ampere’s circuital from Ampere’s law L = 2 π r3. However, from the sectional
law. The dashed lines labelled cut, we see that the current coming out of the plane of the
1, 2 and 3 are three circular paper is cancelled exactly by the current going into it. Thus,
Amperian loops. Ie= 0, and B3 = 0. Let the magnetic field inside the solenoid
be B. We shall now consider the magnetic field at S. Once again we employ
Ampere’s law in the form of Eq. [4.17 (a)]. We find, L = 2π r.
The current enclosed Ie is (for N turns of toroidal coil) N I.
152 B (2πr) = µ0NI

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Moving Charges and
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µ0 NI
B= (4.21)
2π r
We shall now compare the two results: for a toroid and solenoid. We
re-express Eq. (4.21) to make the comparison easier with the solenoid
result given in Eq. (4.20). Let r be the average radius of the toroid and n
be the number of turns per unit length. Then
N = 2πr n = (average) perimeter of the toroid
× number of turns per unit length
and thus,
B = µ0 n I, (4.22)
i.e., the result for the solenoid!
In an ideal toroid the coils are circular. In reality the turns of the
toroidal coil form a helix and there is always a small magnetic field external
to the toroid.

MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT
We have seen in Section 4.3 (see also the box on helical motion of charged particles earlier
in this chapter) that orbits of charged particles are helical. If the magnetic field is
non-uniform, but does not change much during one circular orbit, then the radius of the
helix will decrease as it enters stronger magnetic field and the radius will increase when it
enters weaker magnetic fields. We consider two solenoids at a distance from each other,
enclosed in an evacuated container (see figure below where we have not shown the container).
Charged particles moving in the region between the two solenoids will start with a small
radius. The radius will increase as field decreases and the radius will decrease again as
field due to the second solenoid takes over. The solenoids act as a mirror or reflector. [See
the direction of F as the particle approaches coil 2 in the figure. It has a horizontal component
against the forward motion.] This makes the particles turn back when they approach the
solenoid. Such an arrangement will act like magnetic bottle or magnetic container. The
particles will never touch the sides of the container. Such magnetic bottles are of great use
in confining the high energy plasma in fusion experiments. The plasma will destroy any
other form of material container because of its high temperature. Another useful container
is a toroid. Toroids are expected to play a key role in the tokamak, an equipment for plasma
confinement in fusion power reactors. There is an international collaboration called the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), being set up in France, for
achieving controlled fusion, of which India is a collaborating nation. For details of ITER
collaboration and the project, you may visit http://www.iter.org.

153

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Example 4.9 A solenoid of length 0.5 m has a radius of 1 cm and is
made up of 500 turns. It carries a current of 5 A. What is the
magnitude of the magnetic field inside the solenoid?
Solution The number of turns per unit length is,
500
n = = 1000 turns/m
0.5
EXAMPLE 4.9

The length l = 0.5 m and radius r = 0.01 m. Thus, l/a = 50 i.e., l >> a .
Hence, we can use the long solenoid formula, namely, Eq. (4.20)
B = µ0n I
= 4π × 10–7 × 103 × 5
= 6.28 × 10–3 T

4.9 FORCE BETWEEN TWO PARALLEL CURRENTS,


THE AMPERE
We have learnt that there exists a magnetic field due to a conductor
carrying a current which obeys the Biot-Savart law. Further, we have
learnt that an external magnetic field will exert a force on
a current-carrying conductor. This follows from the
Lorentz force formula. Thus, it is logical to expect that
two current-carrying conductors placed near each other
will exert (magnetic) forces on each other. In the period
1820-25, Ampere studied the nature of this magnetic
force and its dependence on the magnitude of the current,
on the shape and size of the conductors, as well as, the
distances between the conductors. In this section, we
shall take the simple example of two parallel current-
carrying conductors, which will perhaps help us to
appreciate Ampere’s painstaking work.
Figure 4.20 shows two long parallel conductors a
FIGURE 4.20 Two long straight
and b separated by a distance d and carrying (parallel)
parallel conductors carrying steady
currents Ia and Ib and separated by a currents I a and I b , respectively. The conductor ‘a’
distance d. Ba is the magnetic field set produces, the same magnetic field Ba at all points along
up by conductor ‘a’ at conductor ‘b’. the conductor ‘b’. The right-hand rule tells us that the
direction of this field is downwards (when the conductors
are placed horizontally). Its magnitude is given by Eq. [4.19(a)] or from
Ampere’s circuital law,

µ0 I a
Ba =
2πd

The conductor ‘b’ carrying a current Ib will experience a sideways


force due to the field Ba. The direction of this force is towards the
conductor ‘a’ (Verify this). We label this force as Fba, the force on a
segment L of ‘b’ due to ‘a’. The magnitude of this force is given by
154 Eq. (4.4),

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Moving Charges and
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Fba = Ib L Ba

µ0 I a I b
= L (4.23)
2 πd
It is of course possible to compute the force on ‘a’ due to ‘b’. From
considerations similar to above we can find the force Fab, on a segment of
length L of ‘a’ due to the current in ‘b’. It is equal in magnitude to Fba,
and directed towards ‘b’. Thus,
Fba = –Fab (4.24)
Note that this is consistent with Newton’s third Law. Thus, at least for
parallel conductors and steady currents, we have shown that the
Biot-Savart law and the Lorentz force yield results in accordance with
Newton’s third Law*.
We have seen from above that currents flowing in the same direction
attract each other. One can show that oppositely directed currents repel
each other. Thus,
Parallel currents attract, and antiparallel currents repel.
This rule is the opposite of what we find in electrostatics. Like (same
sign) charges repel each other, but like (parallel) currents attract each
other.
Let fba represent the magnitude of the force Fba per unit length. Then,
from Eq. (4.23),
µ0 I a I b
f ba = (4.25)
2πd
The above expression is used to define the ampere (A), which is one
of the seven SI base units.
The ampere is the value of that steady current which, when maintained
in each of the two very long, straight, parallel conductors of negligible
cross-section, and placed one metre apart in vacuum, would produce
on each of these conductors a force equal to 2 × 10–7 newtons per metre
of length.
This definition of the ampere was adopted in 1946. It is a theoretical
definition. In practice, one must eliminate the effect of the earth’s magnetic
field and substitute very long wires by multiturn coils of appropriate
geometries. An instrument called the current balance is used to measure
this mechanical force.
The SI unit of charge, namely, the coulomb, can now be defined in
terms of the ampere.
When a steady current of 1A is set up in a conductor, the quantity of
charge that flows through its cross-section in 1s is one coulomb (1C).

* It turns out that when we have time-dependent currents and/or charges in


motion, Newton’s third law may not hold for forces between charges and/or
conductors. An essential consequence of the Newton’s third law in mechanics
is conservation of momentum of an isolated system. This, however, holds even
for the case of time-dependent situations with electromagnetic fields, provided
the momentum carried by fields is also taken into account. 155

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ROGET’S SPIRAL FOR ATTRACTION BETWEEN PARALLEL CURRENTS

Magnetic effects are generally smaller than electric effects. As a consequence, the force
between currents is rather small, because of the smallness of the factor µ. Hence it is
difficult to demonstrate attraction or repulsion between currents. Thus, for 5 A current
in each wire at a separation of 1cm, the force per metre would be 5 × 10–4 N, which is
about 50 mg weight. It would be like pulling a wire by a string going over a pulley to
which a 50 mg weight is attached. The displacement of the wire would be quite
unnoticeable.
With the use of a soft spring, we can increase the effective length of the parallel current
and by using mercury, we can make the displacement of even a few mm observable very
dramatically. You will also need a constant-current
supply giving a constant current of about 5 A.
Take a soft spring whose natural period of
oscillations is about 0.5 – 1s. Hang it vertically and
attach a pointed tip to its lower end, as shown in the
figure here. Take some mercury in a dish and adjust the
spring such that the tip is just above the mercury
surface. Take the DC current source, connect one of its
terminals to the upper end of the spring, and dip the
other terminal in mercury. If the tip of the spring touches
mercury, the circuit is completed through mercury.
Let the DC source be put off to begin with. Let the tip be adjusted so that it just
touches the mercury surface. Switch on the constant current supply, and watch the
fascinating outcome. The spring shrinks with a jerk, the tip comes out of mercury (just
by a mm or so), the circuit is broken, the current stops, the spring relaxes and tries to
come back to its original position, the tip again touches mercury establishing a current
in the circuit, and the cycle continues with tick, tick, tick,... In the beginning, you may
require some small adjustments to get a good effect.
Keep your face away from mercury vapour as it is poisonous. Do not inhale mercury
vapour for long.

Example 4.10 The horizontal component of the earth’s magnetic field


at a certain place is 3.0 ×10–5 T and the direction of the field is from
the geographic south to the geographic north. A very long straight
conductor is carrying a steady current of 1A. What is the force per
unit length on it when it is placed on a horizontal table and the
direction of the current is (a) east to west; (b) south to north?
Solution F = I l × B
F = IlB sinθ
The force per unit length is
EXAMPLE 4.10

f = F/l = I B sinθ
(a) When the current is flowing from east to west,
θ = 90°
Hence,
f=IB
156 = 1 × 3 × 10–5 = 3 × 10–5 N m–1

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Moving Charges and
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This is larger than the value 2×10–7 Nm–1 quoted in the definition
of the ampere. Hence it is important to eliminate the effect of the
earth’s magnetic field and other stray fields while standardising
the ampere.

EXAMPLE 4.10
The direction of the force is downwards. This direction may be
obtained by the directional property of cross product of vectors.
(b) When the current is flowing from south to north,
θ = 0o
f=0
Hence there is no force on the conductor.

4.10 TORQUE ON CURRENT LOOP, MAGNETIC DIPOLE


4.10.1 Torque on a rectangular current loop in a uniform
magnetic field
We now show that a rectangular loop carrying a steady current I and
placed in a uniform magnetic field experiences a torque. It does not
experience a net force. This behaviour is analogous to
that of electric dipole in a uniform electric field
(Section 1.12).
We first consider the simple case when the
rectangular loop is placed such that the uniform
magnetic field B is in the plane of the loop. This is
illustrated in Fig. 4.21(a).
The field exerts no force on the two arms AD and BC
of the loop. It is perpendicular to the arm AB of the loop
and exerts a force F1 on it which is directed into the
plane of the loop. Its magnitude is,
F1 = I b B
Similarly, it exerts a force F2 on the arm CD and F2
is directed out of the plane of the paper.
F2 = I b B = F1
Thus, the net force on the loop is zero. There is a
torque on the loop due to the pair of forces F1 and F2.
Figure 4.21(b) shows a view of the loop from the AD
end. It shows that the torque on the loop tends to rotate
it anticlockwise. This torque is (in magnitude),
a a
τ = F1 + F2
2 2
a a FIGURE 4.21 (a) A rectangular
= IbB + IbB = I (ab ) B current-carrying coil in uniform
2 2
magnetic field. The magnetic moment
=IAB (4.26) m points downwards. The torque τ is
where A = ab is the area of the rectangle. along the axis and tends to rotate the
coil anticlockwise. (b) The couple
We next consider the case when the plane of the loop,
acting on the coil.
is not along the magnetic field, but makes an angle with
it. We take the angle between the field and the normal to 157

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the coil to be angle θ (The previous case
corresponds to θ = π/2). Figure 4.22 illustrates
this general case.
The forces on the arms BC and DA are equal,
opposite, and act along the axis of the coil, which
connects the centres of mass of BC and DA. Being
collinear along the axis they cancel each other,
resulting in no net force or torque. The forces on
arms AB and CD are F1 and F2. They too are equal
and opposite, with magnitude,
F1 = F2 = I b B
But they are not collinear! This results in a
couple as before. The torque is, however, less than
the earlier case when plane of loop was along the
magnetic field. This is because the perpendicular
distance between the forces of the couple has
decreased. Figure 4.22(b) is a view of the
arrangement from the AD end and it illustrates
these two forces constituting a couple. The
magnitude of the torque on the loop is,
a a
τ = F1 sin θ + F2 sin θ
2 2
FIGURE 4.22 (a) The area vector of the loop
ABCD makes an arbitrary angle θ with = I ab B sin θ
the magnetic field. (b) Top view of = I A B sin θ (4.27)
the loop. The forces F1 and F2 acting
on the arms AB and CD As θ à 0, the perpendicular distance between
are indicated. the forces of the couple also approaches zero. This
makes the forces collinear and the net force and
torque zero. The torques in Eqs. (4.26) and (4.27)
can be expressed as vector product of the magnetic moment of the coil
and the magnetic field. We define the magnetic moment of the current
loop as,
m=IA (4.28)
where the direction of the area vector A is given by the right-hand thumb
rule and is directed into the plane of the paper in Fig. 4.21. Then as the
angle between m and B is θ , Eqs. (4.26) and (4.27) can be expressed by
one expression
τ = m×B (4.29)
This is analogous to the electrostatic case (Electric dipole of dipole
moment pe in an electric field E).
τ = pe × E
As is clear from Eq. (4.28), the dimensions of the magnetic moment are
[A][L2] and its unit is Am2.
From Eq. (4.29), we see that the torque τ vanishes when m is either
parallel or antiparallel to the magnetic field B. This indicates a state of
equilibrium as there is no torque on the coil (this also applies to any
158 object with a magnetic moment m). When m and B are parallel the

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Moving Charges and
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equilibrium is a stable one. Any small rotation of the coil produces a
torque which brings it back to its original position. When they are
antiparallel, the equilibrium is unstable as any rotation produces a torque
which increases with the amount of rotation. The presence of this torque
is also the reason why a small magnet or any magnetic dipole aligns
itself with the external magnetic field.
If the loop has N closely wound turns, the expression for torque, Eq.
(4.29), still holds, with
m=NIA (4.30)

Example 4.11 A 100 turn closely wound circular coil of radius 10 cm


carries a current of 3.2 A. (a) What is the field at the centre of the
coil? (b) What is the magnetic moment of this coil?
The coil is placed in a vertical plane and is free to rotate about a
horizontal axis which coincides with its diameter. A uniform magnetic
field of 2T in the horizontal direction exists such that initially the
axis of the coil is in the direction of the field. The coil rotates through
an angle of 90° under the influence of the magnetic field.
(c) What are the magnitudes of the torques on the coil in the initial
and final position? (d) What is the angular speed acquired by the
coil when it has rotated by 90°? The moment of inertia of the coil is
0.1 kg m2.
Solution
(a) From Eq. (4.16)
µ0 NI
B=
2R
Here, N = 100; I = 3.2 A, and R = 0.1 m. Hence,
4π × 10 −7 × 102 × 3.2 4 × 10 −5 × 10
B= −1
= (using π × 3.2 = 10)
2 × 10 2 × 10 −1
= 2 × 10–3 T
The direction is given by the right-hand thumb rule.
(b) The magnetic moment is given by Eq. (4.30),
m = N I A = N I π r2 = 100 × 3.2 × 3.14 × 10–2 = 10 A m2
The direction is once again given by the right-hand thumb rule.
(c) τ = m × B [from Eq. (4.29)]
= m B sin θ
Initially, θ = 0. Thus, initial torque τi = 0. Finally, θ = π/2 (or 90º).
Thus, final torque τf = m B = 10 × 2 = 20 N m.
(d) From Newton’s second law,

where I is the moment of inertia of the coil. From chain rule,


EXAMPLE 4.11

Using this,
I 159

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Physics
Integrating from θ = 0 to θ = π/2,

EXAMPLE 4.11

Example 4.12
(a) A current-carrying circular loop lies on a smooth horizontal plane.
Can a uniform magnetic field be set up in such a manner that
the loop turns around itself (i.e., turns about the vertical axis).
(b) A current-carrying circular loop is located in a uniform external
magnetic field. If the loop is free to turn, what is its orientation
of stable equilibrium? Show that in this orientation, the flux of
the total field (external field + field produced by the loop) is
maximum.
(c) A loop of irregular shape carrying current is located in an external
magnetic field. If the wire is flexible, why does it change to a
circular shape?
Solution
(a) No, because that would require τ to be in the vertical direction.
But τ = I A × B, and since A of the horizontal loop is in the vertical
direction, τ would be in the plane of the loop for any B.
(b) Orientation of stable equilibrium is one where the area vector A
of the loop is in the direction of external magnetic field. In this
EXAMPLE 4.12

orientation, the magnetic field produced by the loop is in the same


direction as external field, both normal to the plane of the loop,
thus giving rise to maximum flux of the total field.
(c) It assumes circular shape with its plane normal to the field to
maximise flux, since for a given perimeter, a circle encloses greater
area than any other shape.

4.10.2 Circular current loop as a magnetic dipole


In this section, we shall consider the elementary magnetic element: the
current loop. We shall show that the magnetic field (at large distances)
due to current in a circular current loop is very similar in behaviour to
the electric field of an electric dipole. In Section 4.6, we have evaluated
the magnetic field on the axis of a circular loop, of a radius R, carrying a
steady current I. The magnitude of this field is [(Eq. (4.15)],
µ0 I R 2
B= 3/2
(
2 x 2 + R2 )
and its direction is along the axis and given by the right-hand thumb
rule (Fig. 4.12). Here, x is the distance along the axis from the centre of
160 the loop. For x >> R, we may drop the R 2 term in the denominator. Thus,

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Moving Charges and
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µ0 IR 2
B=
2x 3
Note that the area of the loop A = πR2. Thus,
µ0 IA
B=
2 πx 3
As earlier, we define the magnetic moment m to have a magnitude IA,
m = I A. Hence,
µ m
B; 0 3
2πx
µ0 2 m
= [4.31(a)]
4π x 3
The expression of Eq. [4.31(a)] is very similar to an expression obtained
earlier for the electric field of a dipole. The similarity may be seen if we
substitute,
µ0 → 1/ ε 0
m → pe (electrostatic dipole)
B → E (electrostatic field)
We then obtain,
2pe
E=
4 π ε0 x 3
which is precisely the field for an electric dipole at a point on its axis.
considered in Chapter 1, Section 1.10 [Eq. (1.20)].
It can be shown that the above analogy can be carried further. We
had found in Chapter 1 that the electric field on the perpendicular bisector
of the dipole is given by [See Eq.(1.21)],
pe
E;
4πε0 x 3
where x is the distance from the dipole. If we replace p à m and µ0 → 1/ ε 0
in the above expression, we obtain the result for B for a point in the
plane of the loop at a distance x from the centre. For x >>R,
µ0 m
B; ; x >> R [4.31(b)]
4π x 3
The results given by Eqs. [4.31(a)] and [4.31(b)] become exact for a
point magnetic dipole.
The results obtained above can be shown to apply to any planar loop:
a planar current loop is equivalent to a magnetic dipole of dipole moment
m = I A, which is the analogue of electric dipole moment p. Note, however,
a fundamental difference: an electric dipole is built up of two elementary
units — the charges (or electric monopoles). In magnetism, a magnetic
dipole (or a current loop) is the most elementary element. The equivalent
of electric charges, i.e., magnetic monopoles, are not known to exist.
We have shown that a current loop (i) produces a magnetic field (see
Fig. 4.12) and behaves like a magnetic dipole at large distances, and 161

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(ii) is subject to torque like a magnetic needle. This led Ampere to suggest
that all magnetism is due to circulating currents. This seems to be partly
true and no magnetic monopoles have been seen so far. However,
elementary particles such as an electron or a proton also carry an intrinsic
magnetic moment, not accounted by circulating currents.

4.10.3 The magnetic dipole moment of a revolving electron


In Chapter 12 we shall read about the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom.
You may perhaps have heard of this model which was proposed by the
Danish physicist Niels Bohr in 1911 and was a stepping stone
to a new kind of mechanics, namely, quantum mechanics.
In the Bohr model, the electron (a negatively charged particle)
revolves around a positively charged nucleus much as a
planet revolves around the sun. The force in the former case
is electrostatic (Coulomb force) while it is gravitational for
the planet-Sun case. We show this Bohr picture of the electron
in Fig. 4.23.
The electron of charge (–e) (e = + 1.6 × 10–19 C) performs
uniform circular motion around a stationary heavy nucleus
of charge +Ze. This constitutes a current I, where,
e
I = (4.32)
FIGURE 4.23 In the Bohr model T
of hydrogen-like atoms, the and T is the time period of revolution. Let r be the orbital
negatively charged electron is
radius of the electron, and v the orbital speed. Then,
revolving with uniform speed
around a centrally placed 2 πr
positively charged (+Z e)
T = (4.33)
v
nucleus. The uniform circular
Substituting in Eq. (4.32), we have I = ev/2πr.
motion of the electron
constitutes a current. The There will be a magnetic moment, usually denoted by µl,
direction of the magnetic associated with this circulating current. From Eq. (4.28) its
moment is into the plane of the magnitude is, µl = Iπr2 = evr/2.
paper and is indicated The direction of this magnetic moment is into the plane
separately by ⊗. of the paper in Fig. 4.23. [This follows from the right-hand
rule discussed earlier and the fact that the negatively charged
electron is moving anticlockwise, leading to a clockwise current.]
Multiplying and dividing the right-hand side of the above expression by
the electron mass me, we have,
e
µl = (m e v r )
2m e
e
= l [4.34(a)]
2m e
Here, l is the magnitude of the angular momentum of the electron
about the central nucleus (“orbital” angular momentum). Vectorially,

µl l = – e l [4.34(b)]
2m e
The negative sign indicates that the angular momentum of the electron
162
is opposite in direction to the magnetic moment. Instead of electron with

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Moving Charges and
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charge (– e), if we had taken a particle with charge (+q), the angular
momentum and magnetic moment would be in the same direction. The
ratio
µl e
= (4.35)
l 2m e
is called the gyromagnetic ratio and is a constant. Its value is 8.8 × 1010 C /kg
for an electron, which has been verified by experiments.
The fact that even at an atomic level there is a magnetic moment,
confirms Ampere’s bold hypothesis of atomic magnetic moments. This
according to Ampere, would help one to explain the magnetic properties

www.citycollegiate.com/galvanometer_XIIa.htm
Conversion of galvanometer into ammeter and voltmeter:
of materials. Can one assign a value to this atomic dipole moment? The
answer is Yes. One can do so within the Bohr model. Bohr hypothesised
that the angular momentum assumes a discrete set of values, namely,
nh
l = (4.36)

where n is a natural number, n = 1, 2, 3, .... and h is a constant named
after Max Planck (Planck’s constant) with a value h = 6.626 × 10–34 J s.
This condition of discreteness is called the Bohr quantisation condition.
We shall discuss it in detail in Chapter 12. Our aim here is merely to use
it to calculate the elementary dipole moment. Take the value n = 1, we
have from Eq. (4.34) that,
e
( µl )min = h
4 π me

1.60 × 10−19 × 6.63 × 10 −34


=
4 × 3.14 × 9.11 × 10 −31
= 9.27 × 10–24 Am2 (4.37)
where the subscript ‘min’ stands for minimum. This value is called the
Bohr magneton.
Any charge in uniform circular motion would have an associated
magnetic moment given by an expression similar to Eq. (4.34). This dipole
moment is labelled as the orbital magnetic moment. Hence, the subscript
‘l’ in µl. Besides the orbital moment, the electron has an intrinsic magnetic
moment, which has the same numerical value as given in Eq. (4.37). It is
called the spin magnetic moment. But we hasten to add that it is not as
though the electron is spinning. The electron is an elementary particle
and it does not have an axis to spin around like a top or our earth.
Nevertheless, it does possess this intrinsic magnetic moment. The
microscopic roots of magnetism in iron and other materials can be traced
back to this intrinsic spin magnetic moment.

4.11 THE MOVING COIL GALVANOMETER


Currents and voltages in circuits have been discussed extensively in
Chapters 3. But how do we measure them? How do we claim that
current in a circuit is 1.5 A or the voltage drop across a resistor is 1.2 V?
Figure 4.24 exhibits a very useful instrument for this purpose: the moving 163

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Physics
coil galvanometer (MCG). It is a device whose principle can be understood
on the basis of our discussion in Section 4.10.
The galvanometer consists of a coil, with many turns, free to rotate
about a fixed axis (Fig. 4.24), in a uniform radial magnetic field. There is
a cylindrical soft iron core which not only makes the field radial but also
increases the strength of the magnetic field. When a current flows through
the coil, a torque acts on it. This torque is given by Eq. (4.26) to be
τ = NI AB
where the symbols have their usual meaning. Since the field is radial by
design, we have taken sin θ = 1 in the above expression for the torque.
The magnetic torque NIAB tends to rotate the coil. A spring Sp provides a
counter torque kφ that balances the magnetic torque NIAB; resulting in a
steady angular deflection φ. In equilibrium
kφ = NI AB
where k is the torsional constant of the spring; i.e. the restoring torque
per unit twist. The deflection φ is indicated on the scale by a pointer
attached to the spring. We have
 NAB 
φ= I (4.38)
 k 
The quantity in brackets is a constant for a given
galvanometer.
The galvanometer can be used in a number of ways.
It can be used as a detector to check if a current is
flowing in the circuit. We have come across this usage
in the Wheatstone’s bridge arrangement. In this usage
the neutral position of the pointer (when no current is
flowing through the galvanometer) is in the middle of
the scale and not at the left end as shown in Fig.4.24.
Depending on the direction of the current, the pointer’s
deflection is either to the right or the left.
The galvanometer cannot as such be used as an
ammeter to measure the value of the current in a given
circuit. This is for two reasons: (i) Galvanometer is a
very sensitive device, it gives a full-scale deflection for
a current of the order of µA. (ii) For measuring
currents, the galvanometer has to be connected in
series, and as it has a large resistance, this will change
the value of the current in the circuit. To overcome
these difficulties, one attaches a small resistance rs,
called shunt resistance, in parallel with
FIGURE 4.24 The moving coil
the galvanometer coil; so that most of the current
galvanometer. Its elements are
described in the text. Depending on passes through the shunt. The resistance of this
the requirement, this device can be arrangement is,
used as a current detector or for RG rs / (RG + rs ) ; rs if RG >> rs
measuring the value of the current
(ammeter) or voltage (voltmeter). If rs has small value, in relation to the resistance of
the rest of the circuit Rc, the effect of introducing the
164 measuring instrument is also small and negligible. This

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Moving Charges and
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arrangement is schematically shown in Fig. 4.25. The scale of this
ammeter is calibrated and then graduated to read off the current value
with ease. We define the current sensitivity of the galvanometer as the
deflection per unit current. From Eq. (4.38) this current sensitivity is,
φ NAB
= (4.39)
I k
A convenient way for the manufacturer to increase the sensitivity is
to increase the number of turns N. We choose galvanometers having
sensitivities of value, required by our experiment.
The galvanometer can also be used as a voltmeter to measure the FIGURE 4.25
voltage across a given section of the circuit. For this it must be connected Conversion of a
in parallel with that section of the circuit. Further, it must draw a very galvanometer (G) to
small current, otherwise the voltage measurement will disturb the original an ammeter by the
set up by an amount which is very large. Usually we like to keep the introduction of a
disturbance due to the measuring device below one per cent. To ensure shunt resistance rs of
this, a large resistance R is connected in series with the galvanometer. very small value in
This arrangement is schematically depicted in Fig.4.26. Note that the parallel.
resistance of the voltmeter is now,
RG + R ; R : large
The scale of the voltmeter is calibrated to read off the voltage value
with ease. We define the voltage sensitivity as the deflection per unit
voltage. From Eq. (4.38),
φ  NAB  I  NAB  1
=  =  (4.40)
V  k V  k R
An interesting point to note is that increasing the current sensitivity
may not necessarily increase the voltage sensitivity. Let us take Eq. (4.39)
which provides a measure of current sensitivity. If N → 2N, i.e., we double FIGURE 4.26
the number of turns, then Conversion of a
galvanometer (G) to a
φ φ
→2 voltmeter by the
I I introduction of a
Thus, the current sensitivity doubles. However, the resistance of the resistance R of large
galvanometer is also likely to double, since it is proportional to the length value in series.
of the wire. In Eq. (4.40), N →2N, and R →2R, thus the voltage sensitivity,
φ φ

V V
remains unchanged. So in general, the modification needed for conversion
of a galvanometer to an ammeter will be different from what is needed
for converting it into a voltmeter.

Example 4.13 In the circuit (Fig. 4.27) the current is to be


EXAMPLE 4.13

measured. What is the value of the current if the ammeter shown


(a) is a galvanometer with a resistance R G = 60.00 Ω; (b) is a
galvanometer described in (a) but converted to an ammeter by a
shunt resistance r s = 0.02 Ω; (c) is an ideal ammeter with zero
resistance? 165

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FIGURE 4.27

Solution
(a) Total resistance in the circuit is,
RG + 3 = 63 Ω . Hence, I = 3/63 = 0.048 A.
(b) Resistance of the galvanometer converted to an ammeter is,
RG rs 60 Ω × 0.02Ω
=
(60 + 0.02)Ω ; 0.02Ω

EXAMPLE 4.13
RG + rs
Total resistance in the circuit is,
0.02 Ω + 3 Ω = 3.02 Ω . Hence, I = 3/3.02 = 0.99 A.
(c) For the ideal ammeter with zero resistance,
I = 3/3 = 1.00 A

SUMMARY

1. The total force on a charge q moving with velocity v in the presence of


magnetic and electric fields B and E, respectively is called the Lorentz
force. It is given by the expression:
F = q (v × B + E)
The magnetic force q (v × B) is normal to v and work done by it is zero.
2. A straight conductor of length l and carrying a steady current I
experiences a force F in a uniform external magnetic field B,
F=Il×B
where|l| = l and the direction of l is given by the direction of the
current.
3. In a uniform magnetic field B, a charge q executes a circular orbit in
a plane normal to B. Its frequency of uniform circular motion is called
the cyclotron frequency and is given by:
qB
νc =
2 πm
This frequency is independent of the particle’s speed and radius. This
fact is exploited in a machine, the cyclotron, which is used to
accelerate charged particles.
4. The Biot-Savart law asserts that the magnetic field dB due to an
element dl carrying a steady current I at a point P at a distance r from
the current element is:
µ0 dl × r
dB = I
166 4π r3

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To obtain the total field at P, we must integrate this vector expression


over the entire length of the conductor.
5. The magnitude of the magnetic field due to a circular coil of radius R
carrying a current I at an axial distance x from the centre is

µ0 IR 2
B=
2( x + R 2 )3 / 2
2

At the centre this reduces to


µ0 I
B=
2R
6. Ampere’s Circuital Law: Let an open surface S be bounded by a loop
C. Then the Ampere’s law states that
Ñ B.d l = µ I where I refers to
∫C
0

the current passing through S. The sign of I is determined from the


right-hand rule. We have discussed a simplified form of this law. If B
is directed along the tangent to every point on the perimeter L of a
closed curve and is constant in magnitude along perimeter then,
BL = µ0 Ie
where Ie is the net current enclosed by the closed circuit.
7. The magnitude of the magnetic field at a distance R from a long,
straight wire carrying a current I is given by:

µ0 I
B=
2πR
The field lines are circles concentric with the wire.
8. The magnitude of the field B inside a long solenoid carrying a current
I is
B = µ0nI
where n is the number of turns per unit length. For a toroid one
obtains,

µ0 NI
B=
2 πr
where N is the total number of turns and r is the average radius.
9. Parallel currents attract and anti-parallel currents repel.
10. A planar loop carrying a current I, having N closely wound turns, and
an area A possesses a magnetic moment m where,
m=NIA
and the direction of m is given by the right-hand thumb rule : curl
the palm of your right hand along the loop with the fingers pointing
in the direction of the current. The thumb sticking out gives the
direction of m (and A)
When this loop is placed in a uniform magnetic field B, the force F on
it is: F = 0
And the torque on it is,
τ=m×B
In a moving coil galvanometer, this torque is balanced by a counter-
torque due to a spring, yielding
kφ = NI AB
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where φ is the equilibrium deflection and k the torsion constant of
the spring.
11. An electron moving around the central nucleus has a magnetic moment
µl given by:
e
µl = l
2m
where l is the magnitude of the angular momentum of the circulating
electron about the central nucleus. The smallest value of µl is called
the Bohr magneton µ B and it is µ B = 9.27×10–24 J/T
12. A moving coil galvanometer can be converted into a ammeter by
introducing a shunt resistance rs, of small value in parallel. It can be
converted into a voltmeter by introducing a resistance of a large value
in series.

Physical Quantity Symbol Nature Dimensions Units Remarks

Permeability of free µ0 Scalar [MLT –2A–2] T m A–1 4π × 10–7 T m A–1


space

Magnetic Field B Vector [M T –2A–1] T (telsa)

Magnetic Moment m Vector [L2A] A m2 or J/T

Torsion Constant k Scalar [M L2T –2] N m rad–1 Appears in MCG

POINTS TO PONDER

1. Electrostatic field lines originate at a positive charge and terminate at a


negative charge or fade at infinity. Magnetic field lines always form
closed loops.
2. The discussion in this Chapter holds only for steady currents which do
not vary with time.
When currents vary with time Newton’s third law is valid only if momentum
carried by the electromagnetic field is taken into account.
3. Recall the expression for the Lorentz force,
F = q (v × B + E)
This velocity dependent force has occupied the attention of some of the
greatest scientific thinkers. If one switches to a frame with instantaneous
velocity v, the magnetic part of the force vanishes. The motion of the
charged particle is then explained by arguing that there exists an
appropriate electric field in the new frame. We shall not discuss the
details of this mechanism. However, we stress that the resolution of this
paradox implies that electricity and magnetism are linked phenomena
(electromagnetism) and that the Lorentz force expression does not imply
a universal preferred frame of reference in nature.
4. Ampere’s Circuital law is not independent of the Biot-Savart law. It
can be derived from the Biot-Savart law. Its relationship to the
Biot-Savart law is similar to the relationship between Gauss’s law and
168 Coulomb’s law.

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EXERCISES
4.1 A circular coil of wire consisting of 100 turns, each of radius 8.0 cm
carries a current of 0.40 A. What is the magnitude of the magnetic
field B at the centre of the coil?
4.2 A long straight wire carries a current of 35 A. What is the magnitude
of the field B at a point 20 cm from the wire?
4.3 A long straight wire in the horizontal plane carries a current of 50 A
in north to south direction. Give the magnitude and direction of B
at a point 2.5 m east of the wire.
4.4 A horizontal overhead power line carries a current of 90 A in east to
west direction. What is the magnitude and direction of the magnetic
field due to the current 1.5 m below the line?
4.5 What is the magnitude of magnetic force per unit length on a wire
carrying a current of 8 A and making an angle of 30º with the
direction of a uniform magnetic field of 0.15 T ?
4.6 A 3.0 cm wire carrying a current of 10 A is placed inside a solenoid
perpendicular to its axis. The magnetic field inside the solenoid is
given to be 0.27 T. What is the magnetic force on the wire?
4.7 Two long and parallel straight wires A and B carrying currents of
8.0 A and 5.0 A in the same direction are separated by a distance of
4.0 cm. Estimate the force on a 10 cm section of wire A.
4.8 A closely wound solenoid 80 cm long has 5 layers of windings of 400
turns each. The diameter of the solenoid is 1.8 cm. If the current
carried is 8.0 A, estimate the magnitude of B inside the solenoid
near its centre.
4.9 A square coil of side 10 cm consists of 20 turns and carries a current
of 12 A. The coil is suspended vertically and the normal to the plane
of the coil makes an angle of 30º with the direction of a uniform
horizontal magnetic field of magnitude 0.80 T. What is the magnitude
of torque experienced by the coil?
4.10 Two moving coil meters, M1 and M2 have the following particulars:
R1 = 10 Ω, N1 = 30,
A1 = 3.6 × 10–3 m2, B1 = 0.25 T
R2 = 14 Ω, N2 = 42,
A2 = 1.8 × 10–3 m2, B2 = 0.50 T
(The spring constants are identical for the two meters).
Determine the ratio of (a) current sensitivity and (b) voltage
sensitivity of M2 and M1.
4.11 In a chamber, a uniform magnetic field of 6.5 G (1 G = 10 –4 T ) is
maintained. An electron is shot into the field with a speed of
4.8 × 106 m s–1 normal to the field. Explain why the path of the
electron is a circle. Determine the radius of the circular orbit.
(e = 1.5 × 10–19 C, me = 9.1×10–31 kg )
4.12 In Exercise 4.11 obtain the frequency of revolution of the electron in
its circular orbit. Does the answer depend on the speed of the
electron? Explain.
4.13 (a) A circular coil of 30 turns and radius 8.0 cm carrying a current
of 6.0 A is suspended vertically in a uniform horizontal magnetic
field of magnitude 1.0 T. The field lines make an angle of 60°
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with the normal of the coil. Calculate the magnitude of the
counter torque that must be applied to prevent the coil from
turning.
(b) Would your answer change, if the circular coil in (a) were replaced
by a planar coil of some irregular shape that encloses the same
area? (All other particulars are also unaltered.)

ADDITIONAL EXERCISES
4.14 Two concentric circular coils X and Y of radii 16 cm and 10 cm,
respectively, lie in the same vertical plane containing the north to
south direction. Coil X has 20 turns and carries a current of 16 A;
coil Y has 25 turns and carries a current of 18 A. The sense of the
current in X is anticlockwise, and clockwise in Y, for an observer
looking at the coils facing west. Give the magnitude and direction of
the net magnetic field due to the coils at their centre.
4.15 A magnetic field of 100 G (1 G = 10–4 T) is required which is uniform
in a region of linear dimension about 10 cm and area of cross-section
about 10–3 m2. The maximum current-carrying capacity of a given
coil of wire is 15 A and the number of turns per unit length that can
be wound round a core is at most 1000 turns m–1. Suggest some
appropriate design particulars of a solenoid for the required purpose.
Assume the core is not ferromagnetic.
4.16 For a circular coil of radius R and N turns carrying current I, the
magnitude of the magnetic field at a point on its axis at a distance x
from its centre is given by,

µ0 IR 2 N
B= 3/2
(
2 x 2 + R2 )
(a) Show that this reduces to the familiar result for field at the
centre of the coil.
(b) Consider two parallel co-axial circular coils of equal radius R,
and number of turns N, carrying equal currents in the same
direction, and separated by a distance R. Show that the field on
the axis around the mid-point between the coils is uniform over
a distance that is small as compared to R, and is given by,
µ0 NI
B = 0.72 , approximately.
R
[Such an arrangement to produce a nearly uniform magnetic
field over a small region is known as Helmholtz coils.]
4.17 A toroid has a core (non-ferromagnetic) of inner radius 25 cm and
outer radius 26 cm, around which 3500 turns of a wire are wound.
If the current in the wire is 11 A, what is the magnetic field
(a) outside the toroid, (b) inside the core of the toroid, and (c) in the
empty space surrounded by the toroid.
4.18 Answer the following questions:
(a) A magnetic field that varies in magnitude from point to point
but has a constant direction (east to west) is set up in a chamber.
170 A charged particle enters the chamber and travels undeflected

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Moving Charges and
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along a straight path with constant speed. What can you say
about the initial velocity of the particle?
(b) A charged particle enters an environment of a strong and
non-uniform magnetic field varying from point to point both in
magnitude and direction, and comes out of it following a
complicated trajectory. Would its final speed equal the initial
speed if it suffered no collisions with the environment?
(c) An electron travelling west to east enters a chamber having a
uniform electrostatic field in north to south direction. Specify
the direction in which a uniform magnetic field should be set
up to prevent the electron from deflecting from its straight line
path.
4.19 An electron emitted by a heated cathode and accelerated through a
potential difference of 2.0 kV, enters a region with uniform magnetic
field of 0.15 T. Determine the trajectory of the electron if the field
(a) is transverse to its initial velocity, (b) makes an angle of 30º with
the initial velocity.
4.20 A magnetic field set up using Helmholtz coils (described in Exercise
4.16) is uniform in a small region and has a magnitude of 0.75 T. In
the same region, a uniform electrostatic field is maintained in a
direction normal to the common axis of the coils. A narrow beam of
(single species) charged particles all accelerated through 15 kV
enters this region in a direction perpendicular to both the axis of
the coils and the electrostatic field. If the beam remains undeflected
when the electrostatic field is 9.0 × 10–5 V m–1, make a simple guess
as to what the beam contains. Why is the answer not unique?
4.21 A straight horizontal conducting rod of length 0.45 m and mass
60 g is suspended by two vertical wires at its ends. A current of 5.0 A
is set up in the rod through the wires.
(a) What magnetic field should be set up normal to the conductor
in order that the tension in the wires is zero?
(b) What will be the total tension in the wires if the direction of
current is reversed keeping the magnetic field same as before?
(Ignore the mass of the wires.) g = 9.8 m s–2.
4.22 The wires which connect the battery of an automobile to its starting
motor carry a current of 300 A (for a short time). What is the force
per unit length between the wires if they are 70 cm long and 1.5 cm
apart? Is the force attractive or repulsive?
4.23 A uniform magnetic field of 1.5 T exists in a cylindrical region of
radius10.0 cm, its direction parallel to the axis along east to west. A
wire carrying current of 7.0 A in the north to south direction passes
through this region. What is the magnitude and direction of the
force on the wire if,
(a) the wire intersects the axis,
(b) the wire is turned from N-S to northeast-northwest direction,
(c) the wire in the N-S direction is lowered from the axis by a distance
of 6.0 cm?
4.24 A uniform magnetic field of 3000 G is established along the positive
z-direction. A rectangular loop of sides 10 cm and 5 cm carries a
current of 12 A. What is the torque on the loop in the different cases
shown in Fig. 4.28? What is the force on each case? Which case
corresponds to stable equilibrium? 171

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FIGURE 4.28

4.25 A circular coil of 20 turns and radius 10 cm is placed in a uniform


magnetic field of 0.10 T normal to the plane of the coil. If the current
in the coil is 5.0 A, what is the
(a) total torque on the coil,
(b) total force on the coil,
(c) average force on each electron in the coil due to the magnetic
field?
(The coil is made of copper wire of cross-sectional area 10–5 m2, and
the free electron density in copper is given to be about
1029 m–3.)
4.26 A solenoid 60 cm long and of radius 4.0 cm has 3 layers of windings
of 300 turns each. A 2.0 cm long wire of mass 2.5 g lies inside the
solenoid (near its centre) normal to its axis; both the wire and the
axis of the solenoid are in the horizontal plane. The wire is connected
through two leads parallel to the axis of the solenoid to an external
battery which supplies a current of 6.0 A in the wire. What value of
current (with appropriate sense of circulation) in the windings of
the solenoid can support the weight of the wire? g = 9.8 m s–2.
4.27 A galvanometer coil has a resistance of 12 Ω and the metre shows
full scale deflection for a current of 3 mA. How will you convert the
metre into a voltmeter of range 0 to 18 V?
4.28 A galvanometer coil has a resistance of 15 Ω and the metre shows
full scale deflection for a current of 4 mA. How will you convert the
metre into an ammeter of range 0 to 6 A?

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Chapter Five

MAGNETISM AND
MATTER

5.1 INTRODUCTION
Magnetic phenomena are universal in nature. Vast, distant galaxies, the
tiny invisible atoms, humans and beasts all are permeated through and
through with a host of magnetic fields from a variety of sources. The earth’s
magnetism predates human evolution. The word magnet is derived from
the name of an island in Greece called magnesia where magnetic ore
deposits were found, as early as 600 BC. Shepherds on this island
complained that their wooden shoes (which had nails) at times stayed
struck to the ground. Their iron-tipped rods were similarly affected. This
attractive property of magnets made it difficult for them to move around.
The directional property of magnets was also known since ancient
times. A thin long piece of a magnet, when suspended freely, pointed in
the north-south direction. A similar effect was observed when it was placed
on a piece of cork which was then allowed to float in still water. The name
lodestone (or loadstone) given to a naturally occurring ore of iron-
magnetite means leading stone. The technological exploitation of this
property is generally credited to the Chinese. Chinese texts dating 400
BC mention the use of magnetic needles for navigation on ships. Caravans
crossing the Gobi desert also employed magnetic needles.
A Chinese legend narrates the tale of the victory of the emperor Huang-ti
about four thousand years ago, which he owed to his craftsmen (whom

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nowadays you would call engineers). These ‘engineers’
built a chariot on which they placed a magnetic figure
with arms outstretched. Figure 5.1 is an artist’s
description of this chariot. The figure swiveled around
so that the finger of the statuette on it always pointed
south. With this chariot, Huang-ti’s troops were able
to attack the enemy from the rear in thick fog, and to
defeat them.
In the previous chapter we have learned that moving
charges or electric currents produce magnetic fields.
This discovery, which was made in the early part of the
nineteenth century is credited to Oersted, Ampere, Biot
and Savart, among others.
In the present chapter, we take a look at magnetism
FIGURE 5.1 The arm of the statuette
as a subject in its own right.
mounted on the chariot always points
south. This is an artist’s sketch of one Some of the commonly known ideas regarding
of the earliest known compasses, magnetism are:
thousands of years old. (i) The earth behaves as a magnet with the magnetic
field pointing approximately from the geographic
south to the north.
(ii) When a bar magnet is freely suspended, it points in the north-south
direction. The tip which points to the geographic north is called the
north pole and the tip which points to the geographic south is called
the south pole of the magnet.
(iii) There is a repulsive force when north poles ( or south poles ) of two
magnets are brought close together. Conversely, there is an attractive
force between the north pole of one magnet and the south pole of
the other.
(iv) We cannot isolate the north, or south pole of a magnet. If a bar magnet
is broken into two halves, we get two similar bar magnets with
somewhat weaker properties. Unlike electric charges, isolated magnetic
north and south poles known as magnetic monopoles do not exist.
(v) It is possible to make magnets out of iron and its alloys.
We begin with a description of a bar magnet and its behaviour in an
external magnetic field. We describe Gauss’s law of magnetism. We then
follow it up with an account of the earth’s magnetic field. We next describe
how materials can be classified on the basis of their magnetic properties.
We describe para-, dia-, and ferromagnetism. We conclude with a section
on electromagnets and permanent magnets.

5.2 THE BAR MAGNET


One of the earliest childhood memories of the famous physicist Albert
Einstein was that of a magnet gifted to him by a relative. Einstein was
fascinated, and played endlessly with it. He wondered how the magnet
could affect objects such as nails or pins placed away from it and not in
174 any way connected to it by a spring or string.

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Matter
We begin our study by examining iron filings sprinkled on a sheet of
glass placed over a short bar magnet. The arrangement of iron filings is
shown in Fig. 5.2.
The pattern of iron filings suggests that the magnet has two poles
similar to the positive and negative charge of an electric dipole. As
mentioned in the introductory section, one pole is designated the North
pole and the other, the South pole. When suspended freely, these poles
point approximately towards the geographic north and south poles,
respectively. A similar pattern of iron filings is observed around a current
carrying solenoid.

5.2.1 The magnetic field lines


The pattern of iron filings permits us to plot the magnetic field lines*. This is FIGURE 5.2 The
shown both for the bar-magnet and the current-carrying solenoid in arrangement of iron
Fig. 5.3. For comparison refer to the Chapter 1, Figure 1.17(d). Electric field filings surrounding a
lines of an electric dipole are also displayed in Fig. 5.3(c). The magnetic field bar magnet. The
lines are a visual and intuitive realisation of the magnetic field. Their pattern mimics
properties are: magnetic field lines.
The pattern suggests
(i) The magnetic field lines of a magnet (or a solenoid) form continuous
that the bar magnet
closed loops. This is unlike the electric dipole where these field lines
is a magnetic dipole.
begin from a positive charge and end on the negative charge or escape
to infinity.
(ii) The tangent to the field line at a given point represents the direction of
the net magnetic field B at that point.

FIGURE 5.3 The field lines of (a) a bar magnet, (b) a current-carrying finite solenoid and
(c) electric dipole. At large distances, the field lines are very similar. The curves
labelled i and ii are closed Gaussian surfaces.

* In some textbooks the magnetic field lines are called magnetic lines of force.
This nomenclature is avoided since it can be confusing. Unlike electrostatics
the field lines in magnetism do not indicate the direction of the force on a
(moving) charge. 175

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(iii) The larger the number of field lines crossing per unit area, the stronger
is the magnitude of the magnetic field B. In Fig. 5.3(a), B is larger
around region ii than in region i .
(iv) The magnetic field lines do not intersect, for if they did, the direction
of the magnetic field would not be unique at the point of intersection.
One can plot the magnetic field lines in a variety of ways. One way is
to place a small magnetic compass needle at various positions and note
its orientation. This gives us an idea of the magnetic field direction at
various points in space.

5.2.2 Bar magnet as an equivalent solenoid


In the previous chapter, we have explained how a current loop acts as a
magnetic dipole (Section 4.10). We mentioned Ampere’s hypothesis that
all magnetic phenomena can be explained in terms of circulating currents.
Recall that the magnetic dipole moment m
associated with a current loop was defined
to be m = NI A where N is the number of
turns in the loop, I the current and A the
area vector (Eq. 4.30).
The resemblance of magnetic field lines
for a bar magnet and a solenoid suggest that
a bar magnet may be thought of as a large
number of circulating currents in analogy
with a solenoid. Cutting a bar magnet in half
is like cutting a solenoid. We get two smaller
solenoids with weaker magnetic properties.
The field lines remain continuous, emerging
from one face of the solenoid and entering
into the other face. One can test this analogy
by moving a small compass needle in the
neighbourhood of a bar magnet and a
current-carrying finite solenoid and noting
that the deflections of the needle are similar
in both cases.
To make this analogy more firm we
calculate the axial field of a finite solenoid
FIGURE 5.4 Calculation of (a) The axial field of a
depicted in Fig. 5.4 (a). We shall demonstrate
finite solenoid in order to demonstrate its similarity
to that of a bar magnet. (b) A magnetic needle
that at large distances this axial field
in a uniform magnetic field B. The resembles that of a bar magnet.
arrangement may be used to Let the solenoid of Fig. 5.4(a) consists of
determine either B or the magnetic n turns per unit length. Let its length be 2l
moment m of the needle. and radius a. We can evaluate the axial field
at a point P, at a distance r from the centre O
of the solenoid. To do this, consider a circular element of thickness dx of
the solenoid at a distance x from its centre. It consists of n dx turns. Let I
be the current in the solenoid. In Section 4.6 of the previous chapter we
have calculated the magnetic field on the axis of a circular current loop.
From Eq. (4.13), the magnitude of the field at point P due to the circular
176 element is

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µ0n dx I a 2
dB = 3
2[(r − x )2 + a 2 ] 2
The magnitude of the total field is obtained by summing over all the
elements — in other words by integrating from x = – l to x = + l . Thus,
µ0nIa 2 l dx
B=
2
∫ −l [(r − x )2 + a 2 ]3 / 2
This integration can be done by trigonometric substitutions. This
exercise, however, is not necessary for our purpose. Note that the range
of x is from – l to + l . Consider the far axial field of the solenoid, i.e.,
r >> a and r >> l . Then the denominator is approximated by
3
[(r − x )2 + a 2 ] 2
≈ r3
l
µ0 n I a 2
and B =
2r 3 ∫ dx
−l

µ0 n I 2 l a 2
= (5.1)
2 r3
Note that the magnitude of the magnetic moment of the solenoid is,
m = n (2 l) I (π a 2 ) — (total number of turns × current × cross-sectional
area). Thus,
µ0 2m
B= (5.2)
4π r 3
This is also the far axial magnetic field of a bar magnet which one may
obtain experimentally. Thus, a bar magnet and a solenoid produce similar
magnetic fields. The magnetic moment of a bar magnet is thus equal to
the magnetic moment of an equivalent solenoid that produces the same
magnetic field.
Some textbooks assign a magnetic charge (also called pole strength)
+qmto the north pole and –qm to the south pole of a bar magnet of length
2l , and magnetic moment qm(2l). The field strength due to qm at a distance
r from it is given by µ0qm/4πr 2. The magnetic field due to the bar magnet
is then obtained, both for the axial and the equatorial case, in a manner
analogous to that of an electric dipole (Chapter 1). The method is simple
and appealing. However, magnetic monopoles do not exist, and we have
avoided this approach for that reason.

5.2.3 The dipole in a uniform magnetic field


The pattern of iron filings, i.e., the magnetic field lines gives us an
approximate idea of the magnetic field B. We may at times be required to
determine the magnitude of B accurately. This is done by placing a small
compass needle of known magnetic moment m and moment of inertia I
and allowing it to oscillate in the magnetic field. This arrangement is shown
in Fig. 5.4(b).
The torque on the needle is [see Eq. (4.29)],
τ=m×B (5.3) 177

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In magnitude τ = mB sinθ
Here τ is restoring torque and θ is the angle between m and B.
d 2θ
Therefore, in equilibrium I = − mB sin θ
dt 2
Negative sign with mB sinθ implies that restoring torque is in opposition
to deflecting torque. For small values of θ in radians, we approximate
sin θ ≈ θ and get
d 2θ
I ≈ –mB θ
dt 2
d 2θ mB
or, 2
=− θ
dt I
This represents a simple harmonic motion. The square of the angular
frequency is ω 2 = mB/I and the time period is,
I
T = 2π (5.4)
mB

4 π2 I
or B= (5.5)
m T2
An expression for magnetic potential energy can also be obtained on
lines similar to electrostatic potential energy.
The magnetic potential energy Um is given by
U m = ∫ τ (θ )dθ

= ∫ mB sin θ dθ = −mB cos θ


= −m.B (5.6)
We have emphasised in Chapter 2 that the zero of potential energy
can be fixed at one’s convenience. Taking the constant of integration to be
zero means fixing the zero of potential energy at θ = 90°, i.e., when the
needle is perpendicular to the field. Equation (5.6) shows that potential
energy is minimum (= –mB) at θ = 0° (most stable position) and maximum
(= +mB) at θ = 180° (most unstable position).

Example 5.1 In Fig. 5.4(b), the magnetic needle has magnetic moment
6.7 × 10–2 Am2 and moment of inertia I = 7.5 × 10–6 kg m2. It performs
10 complete oscillations in 6.70 s. What is the magnitude of the
magnetic field?
Solution The time period of oscillation is,
6.70
T = = 0.67s
10
From Eq. (5.5)
4π 2 I
EXAMPLE 5.1

B= 2
mT
4 × (3.14)2 × 7.5 × 10−6
=
6.7 × 10 –2 × (0.67)2
178 = 0.01 T

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Example 5.2 A short bar magnet placed with its axis at 30° with an
external field of 800 G experiences a torque of 0.016 Nm. (a) What is
the magnetic moment of the magnet? (b) What is the work done in
moving it from its most stable to most unstable position? (c) The bar
magnet is replaced by a solenoid of cross-sectional area 2 × 10–4 m2
and 1000 turns, but of the same magnetic moment. Determine the
current flowing through the solenoid.
Solution
(a) From Eq. (5.3), τ = m B sin θ, θ = 30°, hence sinθ =1/2.
Thus, 0.016 = m × (800 × 10–4 T) × (1/2)
m = 160 × 2/800 = 0.40 A m2
(b) From Eq. (5.6), the most stable position is θ = 0° and the most
unstable position is θ = 180°. Work done is given by
W = U m (θ = 180°) − U m (θ = 0°)

EXAMPLE 5.2
= 2 m B = 2 × 0.40 × 800 × 10–4 = 0.064 J
(c) From Eq. (4.30), ms = NIA. From part (a), ms = 0.40 A m2
0.40 = 1000 × I × 2 × 10–4
I = 0.40 × 104/(1000 × 2) = 2A

Example 5.3
(a) What happens if a bar magnet is cut into two pieces: (i) transverse
to its length, (ii) along its length?
(b) A magnetised needle in a uniform magnetic field experiences a
torque but no net force. An iron nail near a bar magnet, however,
experiences a force of attraction in addition to a torque. Why?
(c) Must every magnetic configuration have a north pole and a south
pole? What about the field due to a toroid?
(d) Two identical looking iron bars A and B are given, one of which is
definitely known to be magnetised. (We do not know which one.)
How would one ascertain whether or not both are magnetised? If
only one is magnetised, how does one ascertain which one? [Use
nothing else but the bars A and B.]
Solution
(a) In either case, one gets two magnets, each with a north and south
pole.
(b) No force if the field is uniform. The iron nail experiences a non-
uniform field due to the bar magnet. There is induced magnetic
moment in the nail, therefore, it experiences both force and torque.
The net force is attractive because the induced south pole (say) in
the nail is closer to the north pole of magnet than induced north
pole.
(c) Not necessarily. True only if the source of the field has a net non-
zero magnetic moment. This is not so for a toroid or even for a
straight infinite conductor.
(d) Try to bring different ends of the bars closer. A repulsive force in
EXAMPLE 5.3

some situation establishes that both are magnetised. If it is always


attractive, then one of them is not magnetised. In a bar magnet
the intensity of the magnetic field is the strongest at the two ends
(poles) and weakest at the central region. This fact may be used to
determine whether A or B is the magnet. In this case, to see which 179

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EXAMPLE 5.3
one of the two bars is a magnet, pick up one, (say, A) and lower one of
its ends; first on one of the ends of the other (say, B), and then on the
middle of B. If you notice that in the middle of B, A experiences no
force, then B is magnetised. If you do not notice any change from the
end to the middle of B, then A is magnetised.

5.2.4 The electrostatic analog


Comparison of Eqs. (5.2), (5.3) and (5.6) with the corresponding equations
for electric dipole (Chapter 1), suggests that magnetic field at large
distances due to a bar magnet of magnetic moment m can be obtained
from the equation for electric field due to an electric dipole of dipole moment
p, by making the following replacements:
1 µ
E →B , p → m , → 0
4 πε 0 4π
In particular, we can write down the equatorial field (BE) of a bar magnet
at a distance r, for r >> l, where l is the size of the magnet:
µ0 m
BE = − (5.7)
4 πr 3
Likewise, the axial field (BA) of a bar magnet for r >> l is:
µ0 2m
BA = (5.8)
4 π r3
Equation (5.8) is just Eq. (5.2) in the vector form. Table 5.1 summarises
the analogy between electric and magnetic dipoles.

TABLE 5.1 THE DIPOLE ANALOGY

Electrostatics Magnetism
1/ε0 µ0
Dipole moment p m
Equatorial Field for a short dipole –p/4πε0r 3 – µ0 m / 4π r 3
Axial Field for a short dipole 2p/4πε0r 3 µ0 2m / 4π r 3
External Field: torque p×E m×B
External Field: Energy –p.E –m.B

Example 5.4 What is the magnitude of the equatorial and axial fields
due to a bar magnet of length 5.0 cm at a distance of 50 cm from its
mid-point? The magnetic moment of the bar magnet is 0.40 A m2, the
same as in Example 5.2.
Solution From Eq. (5.7)
EXAMPLE 5.4

µ0m 10 −7 × 0.4 10 −7 × 0.4


BE = = = −7
4 πr3 (0.5)3 0.125 = 3.2 × 10 T
µ0 2m
From Eq. (5.8), B A = 4 π r 3 = 6.4 × 10 −7 T
180

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Example 5.5 Figure 5.5 shows a small magnetised needle P placed at


a point O. The arrow shows the direction of its magnetic moment. The
other arrows show different positions (and orientations of the magnetic
moment) of another identical magnetised needle Q.
(a) In which configuration the system is not in equilibrium?
(b) In which configuration is the system in (i) stable, and (ii) unstable
equilibrium?
(c) Which configuration corresponds to the lowest potential energy
among all the configurations shown?

FIGURE 5.5
Solution
Potential energy of the configuration arises due to the potential energy of
one dipole (say, Q) in the magnetic field due to other (P). Use the result
that the field due to P is given by the expression [Eqs. (5.7) and (5.8)]:
µ0 m P
BP = − (on the normal bisector)
4π r 3
µ0 2 mP
BP = (on the axis)
4π r 3
where mP is the magnetic moment of the dipole P.
Equilibrium is stable when mQ is parallel to BP, and unstable when it
is anti-parallel to BP.
For instance for the configuration Q 3 for which Q is along the
perpendicular bisector of the dipole P, the magnetic moment of Q is
parallel to the magnetic field at the position 3. Hence Q3 is stable.
EXAMPLE 5.5

Thus,
(a) PQ1 and PQ2
(b) (i) PQ3, PQ6 (stable); (ii) PQ5, PQ4 (unstable)
(c) PQ6

5.3 MAGNETISM AND GAUSS’S LAW


In Chapter 1, we studied Gauss’s law for electrostatics. In Fig 5.3(c), we
see that for a closed surface represented by i , the number of lines leaving
the surface is equal to the number of lines entering it. This is consistent
with the fact that no net charge is enclosed by the surface. However, in
the same figure, for the closed surface ii , there is a net outward flux, since
it does include a net (positive) charge. 181

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The situation is radically different for magnetic fields
which are continuous and form closed loops. Examine the
Gaussian surfaces represented by i or ii in Fig 5.3(a) or
Fig. 5.3(b). Both cases visually demonstrate that the
number of magnetic field lines leaving the surface is
balanced by the number of lines entering it. The net
magnetic flux is zero for both the surfaces. This is true
for any closed surface.
KARL FRIEDRICH GAUSS (1777 – 1855)

Karl Friedrich Gauss


(1777 – 1855) He was a
child prodigy and was gifted
in mathematics, physics,
engineering, astronomy
and even land surveying.
The properties of numbers
fascinated him, and in his FIGURE 5.6
work he anticipated major
Consider a small vector area element ∆S of a closed
mathematical development
of later times. Along with
surface S as in Fig. 5.6. The magnetic flux through ÄS is
Wilhelm Welser, he built the defined as ∆φB = B.∆S, where B is the field at ∆S. We divide
first electric telegraph in S into many small area elements and calculate the
1833. His mathematical individual flux through each. Then, the net flux φB is,
theory of curved surface
laid the foundation for the φB = ∑ ∆φ B = ∑ B.∆S = 0 (5.9)
’ all ’ ’ all ’
later work of Riemann.
where ‘all’ stands for ‘all area elements ∆S′. Compare this
with the Gauss’s law of electrostatics. The flux through a closed surface
in that case is given by
q
∑ E.∆S = ε
0
where q is the electric charge enclosed by the surface.
The difference between the Gauss’s law of magnetism and that for
electrostatics is a reflection of the fact that isolated magnetic poles (also
called monopoles) are not known to exist. There are no sources or sinks
of B; the simplest magnetic element is a dipole or a current loop. All
magnetic phenomena can be explained in terms of an arrangement of
dipoles and/or current loops.
Thus, Gauss’s law for magnetism is:
The net magnetic flux through any closed surface is zero.
EXAMPLE 5.6

Example 5.6 Many of the diagrams given in Fig. 5.7 show magnetic
field lines (thick lines in the figure) wrongly. Point out what is wrong
with them. Some of them may describe electrostatic field lines correctly.
Point out which ones.
182

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FIGURE 5.7
Solution
(a) Wrong. Magnetic field lines can never emanate from a point, as
shown in figure. Over any closed surface, the net flux of B must
EXAMPLE 5.6

always be zero, i.e., pictorially as many field lines should seem to


enter the surface as the number of lines leaving it. The field lines
shown, in fact, represent electric field of a long positively charged
wire. The correct magnetic field lines are circling the straight
conductor, as described in Chapter 4.
183

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(b) Wrong. Magnetic field lines (like electric field lines) can never cross
each other, because otherwise the direction of field at the point of
intersection is ambiguous. There is further error in the figure.
Magnetostatic field lines can never form closed loops around empty
space. A closed loop of static magnetic field line must enclose a
region across which a current is passing. By contrast, electrostatic
field lines can never form closed loops, neither in empty space,
nor when the loop encloses charges.
(c) Right. Magnetic lines are completely confined within a toroid.
Nothing wrong here in field lines forming closed loops, since each
loop encloses a region across which a current passes. Note, for
clarity of figure, only a few field lines within the toroid have been
shown. Actually, the entire region enclosed by the windings
contains magnetic field.
(d) Wrong. Field lines due to a solenoid at its ends and outside cannot
be so completely straight and confined; such a thing violates
Ampere’s law. The lines should curve out at both ends, and meet
eventually to form closed loops.
(e) Right. These are field lines outside and inside a bar magnet. Note
carefully the direction of field lines inside. Not all field lines emanate
out of a north pole (or converge into a south pole). Around both
the N-pole, and the S-pole, the net flux of the field is zero.
(f ) Wrong. These field lines cannot possibly represent a magnetic field.
Look at the upper region. All the field lines seem to emanate out of
the shaded plate. The net flux through a surface surrounding the
shaded plate is not zero. This is impossible for a magnetic field.
The given field lines, in fact, show the electrostatic field lines
around a positively charged upper plate and a negatively charged
lower plate. The difference between Fig. [5.7(e) and (f )] should be
EXAMPLE 5.6

carefully grasped.
(g) Wrong. Magnetic field lines between two pole pieces cannot be
precisely straight at the ends. Some fringing of lines is inevitable.
Otherwise, Ampere’s law is violated. This is also true for electric
field lines.

Example 5.7
(a) Magnetic field lines show the direction (at every point) along which
a small magnetised needle aligns (at the point). Do the magnetic
field lines also represent the lines of force on a moving charged
particle at every point?
(b) Magnetic field lines can be entirely confined within the core of a
toroid, but not within a straight solenoid. Why?
(c) If magnetic monopoles existed, how would the Gauss’s law of
magnetism be modified?
(d) Does a bar magnet exert a torque on itself due to its own field?
Does one element of a current-carrying wire exert a force on another
element of the same wire?
(e) Magnetic field arises due to charges in motion. Can a system have
EXAMPLE 5.7

magnetic moments even though its net charge is zero?


Solution
(a) No. The magnetic force is always normal to B (remember magnetic
force = qv × B). It is misleading to call magnetic field lines as lines
184 of force.

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(b) If field lines were entirely confined between two ends of a straight
solenoid, the flux through the cross-section at each end would be
non-zero. But the flux of field B through any closed surface must
always be zero. For a toroid, this difficulty is absent because it
has no ‘ends’.
(c) Gauss’s law of magnetism states that the flux of B through any
closed surface is always zero
∫s B .∆s = 0 .
If monopoles existed, the right hand side would be equal to the
monopole (magnetic charge) qm enclosed by S. [Analogous to

Gauss’s law of electrostatics, ∫ B.∆s = µ q


S
0 m where qm is the
(monopole) magnetic charge enclosed by S .]
(d) No. There is no force or torque on an element due to the field
produced by that element itself. But there is a force (or torque) on
an element of the same wire. (For the special case of a straight
wire, this force is zero.)

EXAMPLE 5.7
(e) Yes. The average of the charge in the system may be zero. Yet, the
mean of the magnetic moments due to various current loops may
not be zero. We will come across such examples in connection
with paramagnetic material where atoms have net dipole moment
through their net charge is zero.

5.4 THE EARTH’S MAGNETISM


Earlier we have referred to the magnetic field of the earth. The strength of
the earth’s magnetic field varies from place to place on the earth’s surface;
its value being of the order of 10–5 T.
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/
Geomagnetic field frequently asked questions

What causes the earth to have a magnetic field is not clear. Originally
the magnetic field was thought of as arising from a giant bar magnet
placed approximately along the axis of rotation of the earth and deep in
the interior. However, this simplistic picture is certainly not correct. The
magnetic field is now thought to arise due to electrical currents produced
by convective motion of metallic fluids (consisting mostly of molten
iron and nickel) in the outer core of the earth. This is known as the
dynamo effect.
The magnetic field lines of the earth resemble that of a (hypothetical)
magnetic dipole located at the centre of the earth. The axis of the dipole
does not coincide with the axis of rotation of the earth but is presently
titled by approximately 11.3° with respect to the later. In this way of looking
at it, the magnetic poles are located where the magnetic field lines due to
the dipole enter or leave the earth. The location of the north magnetic pole
is at a latitude of 79.74° N and a longitude of 71.8° W, a place somewhere
in north Canada. The magnetic south pole is at 79.74° S, 108.22° E in
the Antarctica.
The pole near the geographic north pole of the earth is called the north
magnetic pole. Likewise, the pole near the geographic south pole is called 185

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the south magnetic pole. There is some confusion in the
nomenclature of the poles. If one looks at the magnetic
field lines of the earth (Fig. 5.8), one sees that unlike in the
case of a bar magnet, the field lines go into the earth at the
north magnetic pole (Nm ) and come out from the south
magnetic pole (Sm ). The convention arose because the
magnetic north was the direction to which the north
pole of a magnetic needle pointed; the north pole of
a magnet was so named as it was the north seeking
pole. Thus, in reality, the north magnetic pole behaves
FIGURE 5.8 The earth as a giant like the south pole of a bar magnet inside the earth and
magnetic dipole. vice versa.

Example 5.8 The earth’s magnetic field at the equator is approximately


0.4 G. Estimate the earth’s dipole moment.
Solution From Eq. (5.7), the equatorial magnetic field is,
µ 0m
BE =
4 πr3
We are given that BE ~ 0.4 G = 4 × 10–5 T. For r, we take the radius of
the earth 6.4 × 106 m. Hence,
EXAMPLE 5.8

4 × 10−5 × (6.4 × 106 )3


m = =4 × 102 × (6.4 × 106)3 (µ0/4π = 10–7)
µ0 / 4 π
= 1.05 × 1023 A m2
This is close to the value 8 × 1022 A m2 quoted in geomagnetic texts.

5.4.1 Magnetic declination and dip


Consider a point on the earth’s surface. At such a point, the direction of
the longitude circle determines the geographic north-south direction, the
line of longitude towards the north pole being the direction of
true north. The vertical plane containing the longitude circle
and the axis of rotation of the earth is called the geographic
meridian. In a similar way, one can define magnetic meridian
of a place as the vertical plane which passes through the
imaginary line joining the magnetic north and the south poles.
This plane would intersect the surface of the earth in a
longitude like circle. A magnetic needle, which is free to swing
horizontally, would then lie in the magnetic meridian and the
north pole of the needle would point towards the magnetic
north pole. Since the line joining the magnetic poles is titled
with respect to the geographic axis of the earth, the magnetic
meridian at a point makes angle with the geographic meridian.
FIGURE 5.9 A magnetic needle This, then, is the angle between the true geographic north and
free to move in horizontal plane, the north shown by a compass needle. This angle is called the
points toward the magnetic magnetic declination or simply declination (Fig. 5.9).
north-south The declination is greater at higher latitudes and smaller
186 direction.
near the equator. The declination in India is small, it being

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0°41′ E at Delhi and 0°58′ W at Mumbai. Thus, at both these places a
magnetic needle shows the true north quite accurately.
There is one more quantity of interest. If a magnetic needle is perfectly
balanced about a horizontal axis so that it can swing in a plane of the
magnetic meridian, the needle would make an angle with the horizontal
(Fig. 5.10). This is known as the angle of dip (also known as inclination).
Thus, dip is the angle that the total magnetic field BE of the earth makes
with the surface of the earth. Figure 5.11 shows the magnetic meridian
plane at a point P on the surface of the earth. The plane is a section through
the earth. The total magnetic field at P
can be resolved into a horizontal
component H E and a vertical
component ZE. The angle that BE makes
with HE is the angle of dip, I.

FIGURE 5.10 The circle is a FIGURE 5.11 The earth’s


section through the earth magnetic field, BE, its horizontal
containing the magnetic and vertical components, HE and
meridian. The angle between BE ZE. Also shown are the
and the horizontal component declination, D and the
HE is the angle of dip. inclination or angle of dip, I.

In most of the northern hemisphere, the north pole of the dip needle
tilts downwards. Likewise in most of the southern hemisphere, the south
pole of the dip needle tilts downwards.
To describe the magnetic field of the earth at a point on its surface, we
need to specify three quantities, viz., the declination D, the angle of dip or
the inclination I and the horizontal component of the earth’s field HE. These
are known as the element of the earth’s magnetic field.
Representing the verticle component by ZE, we have
ZE = BE sinI [5.10(a)]
HE = BE cosI [5.10(b)]
which gives,
ZE
tan I = [5.10(c)]
HE 187

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WHAT HAPPENS TO MY COMPASS NEEDLES AT THE POLES?

A compass needle consists of a magnetic needle which floats on a pivotal point. When the
compass is held level, it points along the direction of the horizontal component of the earth’s
magnetic field at the location. Thus, the compass needle would stay along the magnetic
meridian of the place. In some places on the earth there are deposits of magnetic minerals
which cause the compass needle to deviate from the magnetic meridian. Knowing the magnetic
declination at a place allows us to correct the compass to determine the direction of true
north.

So what happens if we take our compass to the magnetic pole? At the poles, the magnetic
field lines are converging or diverging vertically so that the horizontal component is negligible.
If the needle is only capable of moving in a horizontal plane, it can point along any direction,
rendering it useless as a direction finder. What one needs in such a case is a dip needle
which is a compass pivoted to move in a vertical plane containing the magnetic field of the
earth. The needle of the compass then shows the angle which the magnetic field makes with
the vertical. At the magnetic poles such a needle will point straight down.

Example 5.9 In the magnetic meridian of a certain place, the


horizontal component of the earth’s magnetic field is 0.26G and the
dip angle is 60°. What is the magnetic field of the earth at this location?
Solution
It is given that HE = 0.26 G. From Fig. 5.11, we have
HE
cos 600 =
BE
EXAMPLE 5.9

HE
BE =
cos 600

0.26
= = 0.52 G
188 (1/2)

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EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD

It must not be assumed that there is a giant bar magnet deep inside the earth which is
causing the earth’s magnetic field. Although there are large deposits of iron inside the earth,
it is highly unlikely that a large solid block of iron stretches from the magnetic north pole to
the magnetic south pole. The earth’s core is very hot and molten, and the ions of iron and
nickel are responsible for earth’s magnetism. This hypothesis seems very probable. Moon,
which has no molten core, has no magnetic field, Venus has a slower rate of rotation, and a
weaker magnetic field, while Jupiter, which has the fastest rotation rate among planets, has
a fairly strong magnetic field. However, the precise mode of these circulating currents and
the energy needed to sustain them are not very well understood. These are several open
questions which form an important area of continuing research.
The variation of the earth’s magnetic field with position is also an interesting area of
study. Charged particles emitted by the sun flow towards the earth and beyond, in a stream
called the solar wind. Their motion is affected by the earth’s magnetic field, and in turn, they
affect the pattern of the earth’s magnetic field. The pattern of magnetic field near the poles is
quite different from that in other regions of the earth.
The variation of earth’s magnetic field with time is no less fascinating. There are short
term variations taking place over centuries and long term variations taking place over a
period of a million years. In a span of 240 years from 1580 to 1820 AD, over which records
are available, the magnetic declination at London has been found to change by 3.5°,
suggesting that the magnetic poles inside the earth change position with time. On the scale
of a million years, the earth’s magnetic fields has been found to reverse its direction. Basalt
contains iron, and basalt is emitted during volcanic activity. The little iron magnets inside it
align themselves parallel to the magnetic field at that place as the basalt cools and solidifies.
Geological studies of basalt containing such pieces of magnetised region have provided
evidence for the change of direction of earth’s magnetic field, several times in the past.

5.5 MAGNETISATION AND MAGNETIC INTENSITY


The earth abounds with a bewildering variety of elements and compounds.
In addition, we have been synthesising new alloys, compounds and even
elements. One would like to classify the magnetic properties of these
substances. In the present section, we define and explain certain terms
which will help us to carry out this exercise.
We have seen that a circulating electron in an atom has a magnetic
moment. In a bulk material, these moments add up vectorially and they
can give a net magnetic moment which is non-zero. We define
magnetisation M of a sample to be equal to its net magnetic moment per
unit volume:
mnet
M= (5.11)
V
M is a vector with dimensions L–1 A and is measured in a units of A m–1.
Consider a long solenoid of n turns per unit length and carrying a
current I. The magnetic field in the interior of the solenoid was shown to
be given by 189

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B0 = µ0 nI (5.12)
If the interior of the solenoid is filled with a material with non-zero
magnetisation, the field inside the solenoid will be greater than B0. The
net B field in the interior of the solenoid may be expressed as
B = B0 + Bm (5.13)
where Bm is the field contributed by the material core. It turns out that
this additional field Bm is proportional to the magnetisation M of the
material and is expressed as
Bm = µ0M (5.14)
where µ0 is the same constant (permittivity of vacuum) that appears in
Biot-Savart’s law.
It is convenient to introduce another vector field H, called the magnetic
intensity, which is defined by
B
H= –M (5.15)
µ0
where H has the same dimensions as M and is measured in units of A m–1.
Thus, the total magnetic field B is written as
B = µ0 (H + M) (5.16)
We repeat our defining procedure. We have partitioned the contribution
to the total magnetic field inside the sample into two parts: one, due to
external factors such as the current in the solenoid. This is represented
by H. The other is due to the specific nature of the magnetic material,
namely M. The latter quantity can be influenced by external factors. This
influence is mathematically expressed as
M = χH (5.17)
where χ , a dimensionless quantity, is appropriately called the magnetic
susceptibility. It is a measure of how a magnetic material responds to an
external field. Table 5.2 lists χ for some elements. It is small and positive
for materials, which are called paramagnetic. It is small and negative for
materials, which are termed diamagnetic. In the latter case M and H are
opposite in direction. From Eqs. (5.16) and (5.17) we obtain,
B = µ0 (1 + χ )H (5.18)

= µ0 µr H

= µH (5.19)
where µr= 1 + χ, is a dimensionless quantity called the relative magnetic
permeability of the substance. It is the analog of the dielectric constant in
electrostatics. The magnetic permeability of the substance is µ and it has
the same dimensions and units as µ0;
µ = µ0µr = µ0 (1+χ).
The three quantities χ, µr and µ are interrelated and only one of
190 them is independent. Given one, the other two may be easily determined.

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TABLE 5.2 MAGNETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY OF SOME ELEMENTS AT 300 K

Diamagnetic substance χ Paramagnetic substance χ

Bismuth –1.66 × 10–5 Aluminium 2.3 × 10–5


Copper –9.8 × 10–6 Calcium 1.9 × 10–5
Diamond –2.2 × 10–5 Chromium 2.7 × 10–4
Gold –3.6 × 10–5 Lithium 2.1 × 10–5
Lead –1.7 × 10–5 Magnesium 1.2 × 10–5
Mercury –2.9 × 10–5 Niobium 2.6 × 10–5
Nitrogen (STP) –5.0 × 10–9 Oxygen (STP) 2.1 × 10–6
Silver –2.6 × 10–5 Platinum 2.9 × 10–4
Silicon –4.2 × 10–6 Tungsten 6.8 × 10–5

Example 5.10 A solenoid has a core of a material with relative


permeability 400. The windings of the solenoid are insulated from the
core and carry a current of 2A. If the number of turns is 1000 per
metre, calculate (a) H, (b) M, (c) B and (d) the magnetising current Im.
Solution
(a) The field H is dependent of the material of the core, and is
H = nI = 1000 × 2.0 = 2 ×103 A/m.
(b) The magnetic field B is given by
B = µr µ0 H
= 400 × 4π ×10–7 (N/A2) × 2 × 103 (A/m)
= 1.0 T
(c) Magnetisation is given by
M = (B– µ0 H )/ µ0
= (µr µ0 H–µ0 H )/µ0 = (µr – 1)H = 399 × H
EXAMPLE 5.10

≅ 8 × 105 A/m
(d) The magnetising current IM is the additional current that needs
to be passed through the windings of the solenoid in the absence
of the core which would give a B value as in the presence of the
core. Thus B = µr n0 (I + IM). Using I = 2A, B = 1 T, we get IM = 794 A.

5.6 MAGNETIC PROPERTIES OF MATERIALS


The discussion in the previous section helps us to classify materials as
diamagnetic, paramagnetic or ferromagnetic. In terms of the susceptibility
χ , a material is diamagnetic if χ is negative, para- if χ is positive and
small, and ferro- if χ is large and positive.
A glance at Table 5.3 gives one a better feeling for these
materials. Here ε is a small positive number introduced to quantify
paramagnetic materials. Next, we describe these materials in some
detail. 191

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TABLE 5.3
Diamagnetic Paramagnetic Ferromagnetic

–1 ≤ χ < 0 0 < χ< ε χ >> 1


0 ≤ µr < 1 1< µr < 1+ ε µr >> 1
µ < µ0 µ > µ0 µ >> µ0

5.6.1 Diamagnetism
Diamagnetic substances are those which have tendency to move from
stronger to the weaker part of the external magnetic field. In other words,
unlike the way a magnet attracts metals like iron, it would repel a
diamagnetic substance.
Figure 5.12(a) shows a bar of diamagnetic material placed in an external
magnetic field. The field lines are repelled or expelled and the field inside
the material is reduced. In most cases, as is evident from
Table 5.2, this reduction is slight, being one part in 105. When placed in a
non-uniform magnetic field, the bar will tend to move from high to low field.
The simplest explanation for diamagnetism is as follows. Electrons in
an atom orbiting around nucleus possess orbital angular momentum.
These orbiting electrons are equivalent to current-carrying loop and thus
possess orbital magnetic moment. Diamagnetic substances are the ones
in which resultant magnetic moment in an atom is zero. When magnetic
field is applied, those electrons having orbital magnetic moment in the
same direction slow down and those in the opposite direction speed up.
This happens due to induced current in accordance with Lenz’s law which
you will study in Chapter 6. Thus, the substance develops a net magnetic
FIGURE 5.12
moment in direction opposite to that of the applied field and hence
Behaviour of repulsion.
magnetic field lines Some diamagnetic materials are bismuth, copper, lead, silicon,
near a nitrogen (at STP), water and sodium chloride. Diamagnetism is present
(a) diamagnetic, in all the substances. However, the effect is so weak in most cases that it
(b) paramagnetic gets shifted by other effects like paramagnetism, ferromagnetism, etc.
substance. The most exotic diamagnetic materials are superconductors. These
are metals, cooled to very low temperatures which exhibits both perfect
conductivity and perfect diamagnetism. Here the field lines are completely
expelled! χ = –1 and µr = 0. A superconductor repels a magnet and (by
Newton’s third law) is repelled by the magnet. The phenomenon of perfect
diamagnetism in superconductors is called the Meissner effect, after the
name of its discoverer. Superconducting magnets can be gainfully
exploited in variety of situations, for example, for running magnetically
levitated superfast trains.

5.6.2 Paramagnetism
Paramagnetic substances are those which get weakly magnetised when
placed in an external magnetic field. They have tendency to move from a
region of weak magnetic field to strong magnetic field, i.e., they get weakly
192 attracted to a magnet.

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The individual atoms (or ions or molecules) of a paramagnetic material
possess a permanent magnetic dipole moment of their own. On account
of the ceaseless random thermal motion of the atoms, no net magnetisation
is seen. In the presence of an external field B0, which is strong enough,
and at low temperatures, the individual atomic dipole moment can be
made to align and point in the same direction as B0. Figure 5.12(b) shows

MagParticle/Physics/MagneticMatls.htm
http://www.nde-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/
Magnetic materials, domain, etc.:
a bar of paramagnetic material placed in an external field. The field lines
gets concentrated inside the material, and the field inside is enhanced. In
most cases, as is evident from Table 5.2, this enhancement is slight, being
one part in 105. When placed in a non-uniform magnetic field, the bar
will tend to move from weak field to strong.
Some paramagnetic materials are aluminium, sodium, calcium,
oxygen (at STP) and copper chloride. Experimentally, one finds that the
magnetisation of a paramagnetic material is inversely proportional to the
absolute temperature T ,
B0
M =C [5.20(a)]
T
or equivalently, using Eqs. (5.12) and (5.17)
µ0
χ =C [5.20(b)]
T
This is known as Curie’s law, after its discoverer Pieree Curie (1859-
1906). The constant C is called Curie’s constant. Thus, for a paramagnetic
material both χ and µr depend not only on the material, but also
(in a simple fashion) on the sample temperature. As the field is
increased or the temperature is lowered, the magnetisation increases until
it reaches the saturation value Ms, at which point all the dipoles are
perfectly aligned with the field. Beyond this, Curie’s law [Eq. (5.20)] is no
longer valid.

5.6.3 Ferromagnetism
Ferromagnetic substances are those which gets strongly magnetised when
placed in an external magnetic field. They have strong tendency to move
from a region of weak magnetic field to strong magnetic field, i.e., they get
strongly attracted to a magnet.
The individual atoms (or ions or molecules) in a ferromagnetic material
possess a dipole moment as in a paramagnetic material. However, they
interact with one another in such a way that they spontaneously align
themselves in a common direction over a macroscopic volume called
domain. The explanation of this cooperative effect requires quantum
mechanics and is beyond the scope of this textbook. Each domain has a
net magnetisation. Typical domain size is 1mm and the domain contains
about 1011 atoms. In the first instant, the magnetisation varies randomly
from domain to domain and there is no bulk magnetisation. This is shown FIGURE 5.13
in Fig. 5.13(a). When we apply an external magnetic field B0, the domains (a) Randomly
orient themselves in the direction of B0 and simultaneously the domain oriented domains,
oriented in the direction of B0 grow in size. This existence of domains and (b) Aligned domains.
their motion in B0 are not speculations. One may observe this under a
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ferromagnetic substance of samples. This motion of suspension can be
observed. Figure 5.12(b) shows the situation when the domains have
aligned and amalgamated to form a single ‘giant’ domain.
Thus, in a ferromagnetic material the field lines are highly
concentrated. In non-uniform magnetic field, the sample tends to move
towards the region of high field. We may wonder as to what happens
when the external field is removed. In some ferromagnetic materials the
magnetisation persists. Such materials are called hard magnetic materials
or hard ferromagnets. Alnico, an alloy of iron, aluminium, nickel, cobalt
and copper, is one such material. The naturally occurring lodestone is
another. Such materials form permanent magnets to be used among other
things as a compass needle. On the other hand, there is a class of
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/solids/hyst.html

ferromagnetic materials in which the magnetisation disappears on removal


of the external field. Soft iron is one such material. Appropriately enough,
such materials are called soft ferromagnetic materials. There are a number
of elements, which are ferromagnetic: iron, cobalt, nickel, gadolinium,
etc. The relative magnetic permeability is >1000!
The ferromagnetic property depends on temperature. At high enough
temperature, a ferromagnet becomes a paramagnet. The domain structure
disintegrates with temperature. This disappearance of magnetisation with
Hysterisis in magnetic materials:

temperature is gradual. It is a phase transition reminding us of the melting


of a solid crystal. The temperature of transition from ferromagnetic to
paramagnetism is called the Curie temperature Tc. Table 5.4 lists
the Curie temperature of certain ferromagnets. The susceptibility
above the Curie temperature, i.e., in the paramagnetic phase is
described by,
C
χ= (T > Tc ) (5.21)
T − Tc

TABLE 5.4 CURIE TEMPERATURE TC OF SOME


FERROMAGNETIC MATERIALS

Material Tc (K)

Cobalt 1394
Iron 1043
Fe2O3 893
Nickel 631
Gadolinium 317
EXAMPLE 5.11

Example 5.11 A domain in ferromagnetic iron is in the form of a cube


of side length 1µm. Estimate the number of iron atoms in the domain
and the maximum possible dipole moment and magnetisation of the
domain. The molecular mass of iron is 55 g/mole and its density
is 7.9 g/cm3. Assume that each iron atom has a dipole moment
of 9.27×10–24 A m2.
194

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Solution The volume of the cubic domain is


V = (10–6 m)3 = 10–18 m3 = 10–12 cm3
Its mass is volume × density = 7.9 g cm–3 × 10–12 cm3= 7.9 × 10–12 g
It is given that Avagadro number (6.023 × 1023